First Section of Central Army Base Set for Home Construction

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Tel Hashomer IDF base in Israel, on August 1, 2013. The largest numbers so far of ultra-orthodox new recruits to the Israeli army arrived at the Bakum army base on August 1. Most of them are expected to be absorbed in the Netzah Yehuda Battalion, under the Nahal Haredi. Photo by Flash90 *** Local Caption *** מחזור ה גיוס ה נרחב ב יותר ב שנים ה אחרונות ב בסיס תל השומר שוויון ב נטל שויון ב נטל חיילים חייל חרדי חרדים דתי דתיים חילוני חילונים מתגייסים גיוס תל ה שומר בקום בקו"מ גדוד הנח"ל החרדי נצח יהודה חטיבת כפיר צבא צה"ל
The Tel Hashomer IDF recruitment and intake base in central Israel, one of the bases the IDF plans to sell off to private contractors and move down south. (Flash90)

The Defense Ministry has completed its evacuation of a large section of the Tzrifin army base, with 413 dunams of the site transferred to the Israel Lands Administration. That frees up the land for construction of thousands of homes in an area where demand is high and the supply of land is at a minimum.

The 413 dunams released to the ILA is the first of six sections of the army base that is to be freed up for construction, as the Tzrifin base is relocated to southern Israel. The entire base will be closed down within the next three years, as new facilities outside Be’er Sheva that will house the operations of Tzrifin are completed.

Once that happens, land will be available for some 4,000 new homes. According to a plan approved by the government, 250 homes will be provided for low-income residents, and 900 of the apartments will be 75 square meters or smaller, priced within the range of first-time homebuyers. Buses and other transportation options are in the planning, and a light rail station connecting the area to the metropolitan Tel Aviv system currently under construction will also be provided. So far, a total of 7,600 housing units have been approved for the areas of the base that have been put up for tender.

The tender is one of several that will provide much-needed land for housing construction in the center of the country that will come in place of 13 IDF bases. The bases, which are being rebuilt in northern and southern Israel, occupy some 8,000 dunams, or 1.5 million square meters of land, and could allow for the construction of over 60,000 homes.

When they were first built, the bases at Tzrifin, Sirkin, Tel Hashomer, Delek Ashdod, Beit Dagan and others were either on border areas or far outside the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. The border is now farther east, and the nature of the threat from beyond it has changed dramatically from when the bases were first built – and the cities have changed too, to the extent that these bases are sitting on parcels around which new communities have emerged.

That’s a waste of resources, the Defense Ministry has decided; there is no need to use expensive land in the center of the country for an army base. The tenders will include a component that will allow the winners to knock down existing structures and develop the land for new neighborhoods, industrial zones, and shopping areas.

The land itself is very valuable, and is expected to bring in billions for the Defense Ministry, sources told business daily Globes. In addition, they added, the move will greatly enhance the Israeli presence in peripheral areas.