Photo Credit: Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority
A full magazine of a Bren light machine gun.

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation and Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists who are digging under the lobby of the Western Wall Tunnels, were surprised on Wednesday to discover an ammunition stash from the Six Day War. Among the findings uncovered are rifle magazines full of bullets, a bayonet, and rifle parts. The ammunition was hidden at the bottom of a water cistern. Israeli police sappers examined the stash.

The excavations are being conducted in cooperation with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, in preparation for a new tour which will be added to the classic Western Wall Tunnels tour.

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Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon and Tehila Sadiel, the IAA directors of the excavation, reported finding “about ten full magazines of a Bren light machine gun, full clip chargers, and two bayonets for a British Lee Enfield rifle. Usually, in excavations, we find ancient findings from one or two thousand years ago, but this time we got a glimpse of the events that occurred 53 years ago, frozen in time in this water cistern. Apparently, this is an ammunition dump that was purposely hidden by soldiers of the Royal Jordanian Army during the Six Day War, perhaps when the IDF liberated the Old City. The water cistern we excavated served the residential structures of the Moghrabi neighborhood that was built in the area of what is today the Western Wall Plaza.”

The excavation under the lobby of the Western Wall Tunnels./ Shai Halevi / Israel Antiquities Authority

Assaf Peretz of the IAA said the ammunition “was produced in Britain in the Greenwood and Batley Ltd factories in Leeds, Yorkshire. Based on the head stamp on the rim, the ammunition was produced in 1956 and reached the Royal Jordanian Army.”

“The discovery of the ammunition stash for Bren light machine guns match two other Bren guns that were found about a year and a half ago in a different water cistern in the Western Wall Plaza, in an excavation directed by Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah of the IAA,” Peretz added.

A Lee Enfield bayonet./ Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation said in a statement: “Along with other glorious discoveries of our nation’s past from the Second Temple period, we are also happy about discovering findings from the war of this past generation to return the Jewish nation’s heart and be able to cling to the stones of the Western Wall. This discovery is a privilege for us – to be able to acknowledge the miracles of the Creator of the Universe at this site.”

About a month ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation announced that an interesting subterranean network hewn into bedrock from the Second Temple period was uncovered in an archaeological excavation at the foot of a 1400-year-old public structure.

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