Construction workers preparing to build a new classroom at a school in northern Israel discovered a large underground weapons cache on Monday that included 50 decades-old guns and grenades described as having survived in pristine condition.
The weapons found on Kibbutz Mesilot were among those hidden by fighters of the Haganah, the Jewish community’s defense force when the area was under British rule before the 1948 War of Independence.
In the period between the end of World War II and the birth of the State of Israel, the Haganah and other groups fighting the British and the Arabs stashed as much weaponry as they could against the day when open warfare would begin. The British, long fans of gun control in areas under their control, were no different when it came to the British Mandate for Palestine. The soon to be Israelis were like rebels everywhere, they wanted weapons for their own protection and the protection of their families and neighbors.
After another cache was discovered in 2004 on Kibbutz Lahavot Habashan, local security officer Meir Schmil told the Jerusalem Post, “It seems that even after the War of Independence, they [Jewish residents] were uncertain about the future of the state and whether they would still need to defend themselves, so they built this bunker.”
Time went on, Israel became a nation and built a well respected self defense force. The men and women of the Haganah aged and as we all will, died. Some of the caches were forgotten as people moved on with their lives, maybe some were even left behind, just in case. We’ll never know why these weapons remained hidden well after it would seem that the need for hidden caches had passed.
“The people who hid the weapons are no longer alive, and they didn’t tell anyone where the weapons were, even after the War of Independence and the establishment of the state,” Magen told Channel 10, adding that the firearms had been wrapped in wax paper.
If you look quickly at the pictures or are unfamiliar with firearms preservation, the guns in the pictures look like junk. All that “rust” is actually wax paper and cosmoline or a similar preservative.
All those rifles, in very good or even pristine condition waiting for the day that they might be needed to defend a kibbutz, or a school, or some other area. Considering their age and the technological advances that have been made since the end of World War II, it’s highly unlikely that they will be used for those purposes, but they are not without value. Some might end up in a museum, but many of them have value to collectors. The Machine Guns can’t be brought in to this country, but I’d be willing to bet that some collectors, including this one, would love to have a chance to buy an Enfield or other collectible military surplus rifle.
Alas, I doubt that will happen given the current administrations hatred of firearms or frankly, anything that represents defending freedom or self defense.
Too bad because someone could use the money generated by those sales and collectors would give the rifles new homes where they would be appreciated and not buried.
Maybe I’ll be proven wrong and in a year or two I’ll be seeing some of these rifled being offered for sale.