Now a museum, the Ayalon Institute was a secret ammunition factory disguised as part of a kibbutz to fool the British back in the 1940s. Jewish people used the factory in their efforts to fight for the independent state of Israel. Organizers went to extreme measures to build and sustain this secret factory within the kibbutz. Between 1945 and 1948, the Ayalon Institute produced more than 2 million 9mm bullets. The Ayalon Institute is located about 30 minutes south of Tel Aviv and is a very interesting museum that is worth visiting.
History of the Museum
Beginning in the 1930s and during the British mandate, the Jewish people began planning ways to make machinery and guns to fight for independence. While manufacturing guns didn’t prove to be that difficult, it was very challenging to make bullets for the guns.
So, a group of Jewish people decided to build a ammunitions factory under a kibbutz, which is a communal area of land designed for a specific purpose, such as farming. The area was near a British base. In 1945, the group built structures on the surface that resembled a kibbutz and in about three weeks, they built an entire ammunitions factory eight meters underground. The factory was about the size of a tennis court.
The people involved in the project worked very hard to conceal the true purpose of this kibbutz. They used many different means to trick the British soldiers, who often visited the site. At its peak, the factory produced about 40,000 bullets a day. Once the bullets were produced, they were smuggled out of the factory to places all over the country.
The factory stopped operating in 1948, three years after being built. In 1987, the factory was restored and turned into a museum that is now open to the public.
Visiting the Ayalon Institute
Sunday – Thursday: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
Friday: 8:30 am to 2:00 pm
Saturday: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
Note: Visiting the museum REQUIRES booking a tour in advance. Tours are offered in English and Hebrew.
Entrance to the museum is for a fee.
The easiest way to get to the Ayalon Institute is by car. It’s about a 30 minute drive south of Tel Aviv and located on Kibbutz Hill, on the outskirts of Rehovot. From Route 412, turn into Science Park. Turn left onto Holtzman Street and continue driving up the hill.
Interested in finding out what else there is to do in the area? Check out these tour ideas.