Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Holy Land Tour: The Bullet Factory

It was Day 10 of our tour and before our group split up--some to return to Houston that evening and the rest of us to travel to Eilat and Petra--we made a couple of visits to sites important to the recent history of the state of Israel.

The first one was at Rehovot, a kibbutz where a secret bullet factory was hidden underground beneath the communal bakery and laundry.

During the time of the British Mandate in Palestine, and before independence, Jews were forbidden to have weapons as British forces tried to stop the movement for independence. Weapons were smugged in but ammunition was not available. The penalty for being caught with weapons or ammo was death by hanging.

An underground resistance group formed among the residents of this kibbutz. They set up their secret bullet factory right across the street from a British police station and told the British they were making a refrigeration plant as a cover story for the supplies they brought in to make the bullets.

Most residents of the kibbutz were not aware of the factory and the few who were took great care not to give away the secret. The site is now a national historic property and has displays re-enacting the work of the Bullet Factory.

Here are photos of the entrance and the laundry:

The atmosphere underground was stifling and the machines used to make the bullets were antiquated, but the secret factory successfully produced munitions for the independence effort and was never discovered by the British.

Here are a couple of photos showing re-enactments of the factory in action:

Afterwards we gathered in a grove of trees outside the Bullet Factory and said farewell to those who were leaving to return home. Although we had one more stop to make before splitting up, there wouldn't be another good opportunity to do that.

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