The Israeli Ministry of Defense on Tuesday published a performance qualification (PQ) phase for the establishment of a new intelligence center in the Negev, a first step toward publishing a tender for the complex in a year’s time.
The tender is part of an extensive national plan to relocate IDF bases to the Negev from the center of the country, consolidating operations to save money and opening up land for development in the Gush Dan area.
The move will bring some 80 percent of the IDF Intelligence Corps to the Negev by 2022, when use of the center for private development will begin.
The Intelligence Center will be built near the Omar community in southern Israel on land comprising some 350,000 square meters, according to the Defense Ministry. The complex “will be characterized by innovative planning with advanced, energy efficient infrastructure,” the ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
The military decided in 2011 to move ahead with the project. Under the plan, most of the IDF training bases will be relocated to one large, central base near Beersheba, and new bases to handle communications, intelligence, and administration will be constructed.
According to real estate experts, the land the IDF is vacating in the center of the country is worth tens of billions of dollars and is part of a multi-year government program to tackle the housing crisis in the center.
When sold to private developers, the land will provide housing options for tens of thousands of people, as well as new commercial and industrial centers.
The relocation is also meant to upgrade the infrastructure and quality of life across the Negev with thousands of soldiers and military officials making the south their new home.
Other bases will include the Nevatim Air Force Base and a technology base expected to be completed by 2017. Development for a centralized training center in Beersheba is underway.
The total area of the new bases will be 10 million square feet, and the project will cost billions.
“This national move will significantly improve the IDF’s operational abilities and help strengthen the economy of the Negev by some six billion NIS a year,” said Head of the Southern Relocation Administration at the Ministry of Defense, Brig. Gen. (res.) Nati Efrati, according to a statement by the Defense Ministry.
“With the completion of the bases’ construction as designated in the relocation, the number of soldiers serving in the south with increase by 30,000, 7,000 of which are career officers, most of whom are in technological fields. It is likely that some of them will choose not only to serve in the Negev, but also to live there,” he added.
David Shamah contributed to this report.