Revealed: Amazon’s Secret Plans for Israel

With the help of some drones and satellite images, we’ve discovered what Amazon Web Services is planning for Israel at a cost of billions of shekels

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Plans of the planned Amazon center in Israel. The plan can be seen overlaid on an aerial picture of the region.
Plans of the planned Amazon center in Israel. The plan can be seen overlaid on an aerial picture of the region. Credit: Harel Dan, Govmap 2020

Amazon Web Services, the largest cloud service provider in the world, is planning to build data servers in Israel at a cost of billions of shekels. Amazon has been planning to launch activity in Israel for a long time, and winning Israel’s official state cloud tender - called Project Nimbus - has allowed it to advance its plans.

The tender requires Israel’s cloud providers to maintain its servers in Israel and thus make sure the data for state institutions remains on Israel soil.

A check with the local building and planning committee and an analysis of satellite and drone photographs has helped unveil preliminary details of AWS’s plans. The company is expected to build three data servers, through the contractor Compass Datacenters, 24 percent of whose stock is owned by the Azrieli Group. 

The sub-contractor for the project is the German company Exyte. Most of the construction equipment will come in containers from abroad. AWS’s first data servers are expected to be built in the Tnuvot industrial zone in the central Sharon region. The site is in the advanced stages of construction, and information can be gleaned from it about the other sites AWS is planning to build.

According to GIS expert Harel Dan, the installation now under construction is expected to cover 10,000 square meters, including peripheral infrastructure based on the urban city plan of the Lev Hasharon Regional Council. Haaretz also learned that the servers will reach a volume of 16 megawatts (the size of a data center is usually based on its electricity consumption).  

Photographs show that in contrast to most data servers in Israel, the Amazon site is not underground. According to the Lev Hasharon regional council, Amazon has a permit for excavating lining and foundations for the site, but not for full construction. The other two Amazon sites in Israel will resemble the one to be built at Tnuvot. One will be built in the Hartuv industrial zone near Beit Shemesh (not far from Jerusalem) and the other in the Shoham industrial zone, not far from Ben Gurion Airport between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

With the help of some drones and satellite images, we’ve discover what Amazon Web Services is planning for Israel at a cost of billions of shekelsCredit: Dan Harel, Copernicus Sentinel-2, 2021

According to people in the field, AWS will be able to launch service in Israel in mid-2022. The rate of construction is relatively quick because AWS is using prefabricated materials that can be rapidly assembled. “The cost of the peripheral equipment alone at each site is estimated at 300 million shekels [$92.5 million],” an industry insider said.

The Nimbus Project tender requires the winners, AWS and Google, to maintain two installations, at least 25 kilometers apart so they can serve as backup in case of a disaster such as an earthquake or a missile strike. AWS met this criterion.

The Azrieli group did not respond to this report.

Amazon Web Services did not respond to this report.  

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