Israeli Army Putting Up New Building in Central Israel, as Move to Negev Delayed

Unit was to move south in 2014, but after several delays, move pushed back a decade.

The IDF's city of training bases being built in the Negev, 2014.
Ofer Vaknin

The Israeli army in recent weeks has begun construction of a permanent building on a military base in the central Israeli city of Givatayim for one of its units, as the army's plans to relocate to the Negev get continuously pushed back.

An official in the Israel Defense Forces said that ownership of the building is to be transferred to the Tel Aviv municipality after the army evacuates. The area is zoned for the construction of 800 housing units.

The base has long been designated for evacuation, but every year the move gets postponed. Betzalel Treiber, the deputy director general of the Defense Ministry, said in 2012 he expected the facility to be evacuated within two years. 2014 came and went, and a new target of 2018 was set. It seems this date will also pass before evacuation commences. The Defense Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Israel Lands Authority recently set a timetable for evacuating all military bases to the Negev. Defense Ministry officials say the expected evacuation date for the base is now 2024, a decade later than the original estimate.

Meanwhile, more units have moved to the base, creating a relatively crowded situation. The Defense Ministry was initially interested in renting a building for the unit in central Israel to ease the crowding. Responding to a Haaretz inquiry following publication of a tender on the matter, the army commented it would not make financial sense to build a permanent structure, and that "it is impossible to build additional buildings on the base's grounds." In the end, it was decided anyway to add a building on the base.

The IDF Spokesman's office commented: "Because of the need to increase the number of rooms on the base and desiring to allow the unit to properly function, it was decided to build an additional structure on the base." The army did not respond to Haaretz's question regarding the building's cost. However, an army source asserted that in coordination with the Tel Aviv municipality it was agreed that ownership would be transferred to the city after the unit moves southward. 800 housing units, 5,500 square meters of commercial space and 15,000 square meters of office space are planned for the area, as well as public buildings and parks.