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Archaeologists carrying out excavations prior to road-widening near Hamovil junction in northern Israel discovered a weapons cache including submachine guns and ammunition on Monday.

Four submachine guns, made in Egypt and stamped in Arabic "Port Said" and the number "17," were found inside a tire, wrapped in oiled cloth. With them were 50 submachine gun 9-millimeter bullets and a khaki shirt.

At first the archaeologists thought the guns had been used by Arab soldiers in the battles of 1948. About a year ago outposts were found in digs in the area, believed to have been used by Arab gangs operating in the Zippori area in pre-state times. However, Egypt began manufacturing the Port Said submachine gun only in 1956. The Port Said was an imitation of the Carl Gustaf M/45 Swedish submachine gun.

Police sappers took the rusty submachine guns away and the archaeologists continued digging, accompanied by sappers to make sure there were no explosives at the site, said Dror Barshad of the Israel Antiquities Authority in the north.

Weapons expert Eitan Feldman told Haaretz he believed the weapons found Monday had been part of the loot IDF soldiers took during the Sinai Campaign in 1956.