Ofakim to Get 10,000 New Homes

A view of Ofakim. (Flash90)

Be’er Sheva, Dimona, and even Netivot have all ridden the wave of growth that has hit southern Israel in recent years — but one town that has been left behind was Ofakim, where the unemployment rate is about 30 percent. To help improve the economy and bring a higher quality population to the town, the Israel Lands Administration is planning to build 10,000 homes in the town, Yediot Acharonot reported. The homes would come together with development of business and industry, and 20 percent of the homes would be small and suitable for first-time homebuyers.

Besides the homes and the business areas, plans are in place for parks, schools, and public buildings. Transportation, including new bus lines and an enhancement of the highways in the area, are also planned.

Besides Ofakim, two major projects — the biggest in years — will provide over 30,000 new homes in the center of the country. The IDF is set to leave the Glilot base, which sits between Tel Aviv and Herzliya, next year; and 14,500 homes are planned for the area. Another large area opening up is the soon-to-be defunct Sdeh Dov Airport in Ramat Aviv; there, some 16,000 new homes will be built.

The latter two projects will require Knesset legislation, and a law that is backed by some 70 MKs on the matter that was set to be debated in the Knesset this week will be discussed in two weeks, after the sponsoring MKs, Itzik Shmuely and Betzalel Smotrich asked for more time to arrange for some permits pertinent to the law.

In the north, some 9,000 new homes are planned for Kiryat Shmona. All this, the report said, was in addition to 78,000 homes around the country that have been approved for construction, and are at the final stage before getting a full bureaucratic green light for construction.