The Ministry of Defense will invest about NIS 2 billion in rebuilding four IDF bases in central and southern Israel, while demolishing old infrastructure dating back to the British Mandate. The land released will allow construction of 60,000 new homes. Renovations are expected to continue until the end of 2019; afterwards, units from bases such as Tzrifin, Tel Hashomer and Sirkin will be relocated there, while their former bases are vacated in favor of tens of thousands of homes in high-demand areas.
The following bases will be thoroughly renovated: Emanuel (Julis) Base near Ashkelon; Gidonim Base at the Tzrifin compound; Shura Base near Ramle; and Bilu Base near Rehovot.
These works are part of the Shoham Plan for the marketing and relocation of IDF bases, led by the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Finance, in coordination with the Israel Land Authority. Head of the Ministry of Defense Engineering and Construction Department Erez Cohen said, "The Shoham Plan is based on completing renovations before vacating. Therefore, the new bases will be built and only afterwards the land on which other bases currently operate will be vacated and marketed."
Cohen added, "One of the key objectives defined by the IDF and the Ministry of Defense is the relocation of most units from bases to be vacated to existing bases. This is aimed at saving time and money, while improving the IDF's operational efficiency."
All of the bases, which will actually be rebuilt from scratch, have old infrastructure which outdates the state of Israel and which has not been renovated to this day. In some bases, the dismantling of old buildings and sheds has already begun; these buildings previously housed many IDF units, mainly subordinate to the C4I Corps, the Technological and Logistics Directorate, and the Ground Forces Command. NIS 500 million will be invested in the renovation of the Julis Base, and, upon completion, further IDF units and activities will be relocated there, including the C2 (command and control) School. A similar sum will be invested in the Shura Base, which is currently used by the Ordnance Corps. In the next three years, units from IDF complexes in Tel Hashomer and Tzrifin will be relocated there.
In the same manner, some units will be relocated from Sirkin Base in Petah Tikva to Bilu Base near Rehovot. Cohen said that despite the relocation and the resulting increase in the number of units deployed in these bases, renovated bases will not be expanded. In order to fully utilize land, one-story buildings in these bases will be demolished and replaced with buildings with up to five floors: "We will build tall buildings, both building which will be used as offices and those to be used for storage. The renovated bases will be up-to-date and be built with an outlook to the future, with a focus on energy conservation. Construction will be carried out while activity in these bases continues, which presents the IDF and the Ministry of Defense with a significant engineering and operational challenges," Cohen said.
The Ministry of Defense noted that most works will be conducted by Israeli companies and the equipment purchased for these projects will be of Israeli manufacture.
60,000 new homes
As part of the Shoham Plan, in the next few years the IDF and the Ministry of Defense plan to vacate 13 bases in central Israel, while transferring some of their operations to the south of the country, for example to the new IDF training complex, opened last year by the Negev Junction. In the next few years, IDF intelligence and communications units will be relocated to two further campuses constructed in the Negev, enabling the vacation of many additional bases in central Israel, including those situated in the Glilot complex.
The Ministry of Defense has said that the implementation of the Shoham Plan will vacate no less than 8,000 dunams (about 1980 acres), enabling the construction of 60,000 housing units: the land vacated following the vacation of Sirkin Base will enable the construction of up to 12,000 housing units; 10,500 units will replace IDF bases and complexes near Tel Hashomer; and vacation in the Tzrifin area will enable the construction of further 17,000 homes.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 8, 2016
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