A Jordanian ammunition stash was discovered Wednesday during Israel Antiquities Authority excavations under the lobby of the Western Wall Tunnels site. The ammunition was hidden in the bottom of a British Mandate period water cistern. The excavations are being conducted in cooperation with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation in preparation for a new and fascinating tour in addition to the classic Western Wall Tunnels tour. Israeli police bomb-disposal experts came to the site to examine the findings.
According to Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon and Tehila Sadiel, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority: “While excavating the water cistern, a surprise awaited us: about ten full magazines of Bern light machinegun, full clip chargers, and two bayonets of 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 Mughrabi neighborhood that was built in the area of what is today the Kosel Plaza,” added Dr. Monnickendam-Givon and Sadiel.
Assaf Peretz of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who identified the ammunition: “This is ammunition that was produced in Britain in the Greenwood and Batley Ltd. factories in Leeds, Yorkshire. Based on the headstamp on the rim, the ammunition was produced in 1956 and reached the Royal Jordanian Army.”
“The discovery of the ammunition stash for Bern 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 of Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah of the Israel Antiquities Authority,” added Peretz.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation said: “Along with other glorious discoveries of our nation’s past from the Second Beis Mikdash 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 Kosel. This discovery is a privilege for us – to be able to acknowledge the miracles of Hashem at this site.”
About a month ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation publicized that an interesting subterranean network hewn into bedrock from the Second Beis Mikdash period was uncovered in an archaeological excavation at the foot of an impressive 1,400-year-old public structure.