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1948 Secret Revealed on The History Channel


February 29, 2008 -- New York, NY -- Perfect timing! Just ahead of the kickoff of Israel's 60th anniversary, The History Channel will air a segment on a clandestine bullet factory that helped win the War of Independence in 1948.


As part two in this season’s “Cities of the Underworld” series, an entire segment is devoted to the Ayalon Institute. Tune into The History Channel on Monday, March 24 at 9 p.m., for “Prophecies from Below.” 


Viewers with Direct/Satellite TV should check their listings, as those providers sometimes air the shows at 10 p.m.


In this segment, the show's host, Don Wildman, is guided by Shlomo Hillel, one of the founders of the secret factory in 1945, who later became a minister and chairman of the Israeli Knesset.


 The Ayalon Institute’s fascinating story is about a top-secret operation that took place during the years between the end of WWII and Israel’s War of Independence.


Under the vigilant eyes of the British who ruled the area, a clandestine plant for the production of much-needed bullets was built underground in anticipation of the armed struggle for independence that came with the termination of the British Mandate.


The Institute, located on Kibbutz Hill in the middle of the city of Rehovot, Israel, was declared a historic site in 1987, and the site, which includes a museum, is operated by a Jewish National Fund (JNF) partner agency, the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS), which was established to identify, restore, and protect irreplaceable heritage buildings and sites associated with the country’s rebirth.


JNF has partnered with SPIHS to help preserve Israel's rich history for generations to come. JNF donors contributed to the film that is shown at the beginning of the experience, money for operating expenses, and the construction of a dormitory used by Israeli teens who spend time there learning about Zionist history.


The Institute was built in just three weeks as a cooperative effort between members of Hatzofim Aleph, a pioneer group, members of the local Jewish clandestine military, and Haganah trainees. Using the laundry room of the kibbutz as their cover -- the noise of the machines and the exhaust camouflaged the subterranean machines -- the group of chosen kibbutzniks worked day in and day out in a 300-square-yard space 26 feet underground and produced nearly three million bullets in 3 years and helped win Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.


The munitions makers daily risked their lives. If caught they could be killed; the ongoing work caused health deficiencies and they needed to be given special diets and time each day with one of the first sun lamps to restore the vitamins that a lack of sunlight deprived them of. At any time, the gun powder, that was handled by hand, could explode, and great pains were taken to enter and exit without being seen by moving a heavy piece of machinery under which a steep staircase was revealed. Their clothes and hair were inspected at each day’s end to remove bullet shavings and stains.


Other cities featured in “Cities of the Underworld” include Rome, Paris, Tokyo, London, Moscow, and New York. The show follows the adventurous host, Don Wildman, as he uncovers archaeological and cultural history lying beneath the streets of cities around the world.  From Cold War-era bunkers hidden beneath a house in Berlin, to a Byzantine Hippodrome buried below an Istanbul high school, Don travels the globe to uncover escape routes, crypts, dungeons, even entire palaces buried beneath the streets. Whether he’s lifting manhole covers, rappelling down subterranean tunnels, or paddling through underground rivers, Don enlists the help of local archeologists and experts as he seeks to dig up the secrets of these past civilizations.


Biblical Productions managed the shoot in Israel for Authentic Entertainment -Los Angeles and the History Channel.



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Jewish National Fund (JNF) began in 1901 collecting coins in blue boxes to purchase land and return the Jewish people to their homeland. In over 106 years, JNF has evolved into a global environmental leader and become the central address for the land and people of Israel.  JNF has planted 240 million trees. Built over 1,000 parks and recreational areas. Constructed security roads. Educated students around the world about Israel. Created new communities so that Jews from around the world would have a place to call home.  Discovered drip irrigation and new means of growing plants under arid conditions, bringing green to the desert. Built over 190 reservoirs and water recycling centers, increasing Israel’s water supply by 10%.


As a United Nations NGO, JNF sponsors international conferences on desertification, shares afforestation techniques and funds research on arid land management. Is restoring northern Israel, making it home again to its residents. Is supporting Israel’s newest generation of pioneers by developing the Negev Desert, Israel’s last frontier.  For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit  JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.


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