Sde Dov airport emptied, paving way for building of luxury high-rises

Sde Dov airport emptied, paving way for building of luxury high-rises

Former air force base and civilian airstrip in northern Tel Aviv was closed last summer to allow for construction, sparking protests and anger

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The Defense Ministry completed the demolition and clearance of the Sde Dov airport in northern Tel Aviv this week, clearing the way for the site’s development into luxury high-rise buildings.

The airport, which had been used as both an air force base and a civilian airstrip, was shuttered in July 2019, following fierce criticism and protests that the closure would harm domestic tourism to the southern city of Eilat.

Over the past six months, the Defense Ministry’s engineering and construction department cleared the 750-dunam (186-acre) site, leaving behind only a handful of palm trees and the airstrip’s tower, which will remain intact as a historic, preserved building.

“The engineering and construction department cleared, in total, over half a million square meters (5.4 million square feet) of military buildings, plane hangars, fences, asphalt, concrete and, of course, a runway that was 1,741 meters (5,711 feet) long. In addition, 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) of perimeter fencing were removed,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The Sde Dov project is part of a larger program, known by the Hebrew acronym Shoham, to relocate older military bases from central Israel, where real estate is coveted and additional housing units are desperately needed, to the Negev desert and other farther-flung locales, where they are meant to serve as a boon for the local economies.

The hangars and buildings that were removed from the Sde Dov airport in Tel Aviv to make way for new luxury apartments, in July 2019. (Defense Ministry)

“The clearing of Sde Dov is a central road mark in the realization of the government’s decision and the Shoham plan for the historic removal of IDF bases from central cities,” Nati Efrati of the Defense Ministry said.

“In the coming years, we will clear thousands more dunams of land in order to put up tens of thousands of housing units and millions of square meters of commercial and industrial space,” he said.

In addition to the Sde Dov air base, the ministry will also remove the massive Tel Hashomer military base in Ramat Gan, the Tzrifin base east of Rishon Lezion, the Sirkin base near Petah Tikva, and other facilities.

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