Kikar Hamedina
Kikar Hamedina - a luxurious area in Tel Aviv that could see development following the relocation of the communication system. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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Guy Raivitz
Tel Aviv's posh Kikar Hamedina may soon see high-rises. Photo by Guy Raivitz

The Defense Ministry is expected to sign a deal on Thursday that would relocate IDF broadcast towers and make way for high-rise development on some of the most desirable real estate in the country.

The historic agreement between the Defense Ministry and the Tel Aviv and Netanya municipalities would move a substantial number of the IDF's communications broadcast towers, which prevent high-rise construction in city centers, to less central locations.

This is the first time that the Defense Ministry has initiated a mass removal of broadcast towers. The process is expected to cost millions of shekels, but will also ultimately offer Israelis thousands of new residential units.

The area around Tel Aviv's Kikar Hamedina, one of the ritziest and most expensive areas in Israel, is expected to be among the properties to be affected by this deal. A proposed plan from 2007 already exists in the Kikar Hamedina area to build four new towers with 43 floors each that will include 453 apartments. In the past, the Defense Ministry objected to the building high-rises, claiming that IDF air waves passed over the square -- a problem that will now be solved.

The Defense Ministry said the agreement would enable high-rise construction in other coveted areas in Tel Aviv and on thousands of dunams of land in southwest Netanya, not far from the beach.

Officials at the Netanya municipality said the new agreement would facilitate high-rise construction in some of the most attractive real estate locations in the city. One of those is known as the "mizbala site," an area used as a garbage dump until several years ago that has since been eyed for a rehabilitation project.

But financing for that project depends on the sale of plots of that land to real estate developers, which has been held up until now due to restrictions related to army broadcast requirements.

Meanwhile, the Netanya municipality cautioned, "The agreement has yet to be signed and is still in the negotiation phase between the local authorities and the Defense Ministry."

The agreement is scheduled to be signed by Defense Ministry Deputy Director-General Bezalel Treiber, Tel Aviv City Hall director-general Menahem Leiba, and Netanya municipality's director-general Yitzchak Inbar. Additional local authorities may sign similar agreements with the Defense Ministry in the future.

The Defense Ministry's Logistics, Operations and Properties Branch, Planning Branch and Telecommunications Branch will handle the removal and relocation of the broadcast towers.

A Defense Ministry source said that the agreement is part of a wider process that has gained traction at the ministry to vacate properties, including military bases in central Israel, to open these areas to civilian use.

Several months ago, 50 dunams of land at the Tzrifin base, and part of Rishon Letzion's beach were handed over by the ministry for civilian use.