IDF training base - Alon Ron
An IDF training base in the Negev. Many army installations have inferior sewage treatment facilities, or none at all. Photo by Alon Ron
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The Defense Ministry wants NIS 20 billion to NIS 30 billion over the next 10 years to move its intelligence, computers and logistical units from the center of the country to the Negev.

The Israel Defense Forces already has moved an air force base from Lod to Netafim and plans to move its training base there, too.

Defense sources maintain there is no downside to the plan, which would ultimately save billions and create thousands of jobs in the south.

Intelligence would be moved to Shokat Junction, near the high-tech industrial complex in Omer. The computer divisions would be moved to a site near Ben-Gurion University.

The personnel staffing these divisions represent the base of Israel's high-tech industry, the Defense Ministry notes.

The success of a project of this nature, according to defense sources, depends on obtaining sufficient funding to cover the costs of relocating career soldiers and their families, as well as investments in schools, health facilities, transportation and housing.

A Defense Ministry document dispatched to other government ministries on Thursday lists the economic benefits of the project, among them a large, one-time increase in GDP as a result of increased government investment and the freeing up of desirable real estate in the center of the country.

According to the Defense Ministry, GDP would increase by a permanent NIS 6 billion a year once the bases are moved to the Negev.

The biggest gains would be felt in that area of the country, it maintain, which would see its population strengthened.

This growth in GDP, it predicts, would more than cover the investment within a few years, without taking into account the extra growth generated by the investment in building the bases themselves.