Israel Begins to Build Military Oasis in the Negev Desert

May 30, 2013 12:41 pm 15 comments

The Negev desert.

Israel is looking to populate the Negev and it’s doing it by means of the military, The Financial Times reports.

In that desert land an enormous military base is rising. The facility, a training base for the Israel Defense Force, will come replete with an auditorium, three synagogues, shooting ranges, six basketball courts and a visitors’ park for swearing-in and handing-out ceremonies. By the end of 2015, 10,000 army personnel and 2,500 civilian staff will call it home, making it the Negev’s third-largest city.

It’s all part of a plan to move much of the IDF’s operations from Tel Aviv and central Israel, and bring jobs and investment to the south. The plan is to build three more such megabases in the Negev by the end of the decade, and it’s expected to cost the country $9bn in all.

Populating the Negev, which accounts for two thirds of Israel’s land but only ten percent of its population, has long been a goal of the country. Now seems as good a time as ever. According to the Financial Times, “Israel’s government, which faces growing pressure from a middle class squeezed by high living costs, wants to free up more land for residential building.”

However, not everyone is pleased by the plans to populate the Negev.  Human rights groups have been critical of a separate development plan, the Prawer-Begin plan, which they say will uproot up to 40,000 Bedouin Arabs from their homes.

“If we are talking about any [settlement] plans, whether it’s moving bases to the Negev or other plans, first the government should deal with the existing population,” says Rawia Aburabia, a lawyer based in Beer Sheva affiliated with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. “The policies towards these citizens discriminate against them and aim to evict them.”

But others argue this just isn’t the case. IDF and defense ministry officials say the project will benefit the Bedouin by bringing new jobs to the region. “A wide array of services will be outsourced, benefiting the whole region and its various communities, including of course the Bedouin community,” says Ilan Levin, a senior ministry of defense official.

According to the FT, Israeli officials are confident in the project citing David Ben Gurion, the country’s founding father, who moved to a desert kibbutz at Sde Boker after retiring, and dreamed of developing the Negev. “Ben Gurion wanted to make the Negev flower,” says Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Alfassy. “If you bring people who want to work and give them jobs and a reason to be here, the whole region will develop and flower.”

15 Comments

  • Ethan Coane

    The “greening” of the Negev was happening over 40 yrs ago when I worked as a volunteer at Kibbutz Hatzerim outside Beer Sheva and would take a bus to visit Eilat. Coming down a mountain road you could spot rectangles of bright emerald green fields in the midst of the brown, desolate-looking valleys. A wondrous sight. I even helped install a Netafim irrigation system on a moshav south of Eilat in what was, essentially, beach sand just 100 yards from the Red Sea. Amazing what Israeli innovation and determination can accomplish.

  • Hashem provided Nature with the best of goodness; created Men with powerful brain to build, develop, enjoy & live peacefully to enhance a better life, Hashem will never abandon The State of Israel, therefore, the ones who love us, come cherish with us, but the ones who hate us wil suffer the curse of Hashem, Peace upon the State of Israel, Amen!

  • The Negev is already turning green….check out what Ofir Fisher (DuDu’s son) is doing in Beersheba!!

  • Israel you have proven what you did with desert and turned it into the most beautiful country in the world in 65 years.I have no doubt that you will e even more sucessful in developing the Negev into something amazing.Go ahead and show the rest of the world what peaceloving people can achieve.

  • It is good policy for any country to build military facilities in lightly populated areas. It is also a good idea to spread out military bases as they are all potential targets.

  • Otto Schiff

    It is not only what you do but also how you do it.
    The current inhabitants of the Negev need to be partners.

  • jerry hersch

    Now if only the bases can incorporate civilian uses…A airfield to augment Ben Gurion…cargo facilities to handle and ship the production of the entire region.
    Relieving the glut and congestion of the Central corridor.
    Roads,rail and pipelines to Both coasts…nearby oil shale deposits,solar potential..ingredients to make the military facilities perhaps somewhat self-supporting in a vast manufacturing trasportation hub.

  • …and the water comes from where?

    • frederick benjamin

      desalinization plants in the red sea. elat already gets 30% of its water this way.

  • Markus E Brajtman

    Wonderful idea.
    The Negev needs to be developed and hopefully, eventually, a city like Bersheva will be developed

    I am sure HASHEM will give Israel HIS blessing for this development

  • I think it is a wonderful idea to build up and populate
    the Negev, especially as it will be a major boon
    to the local economy and the well being of the
    Bedouin community. Economic interdependence
    of Israelis and Arabs, in the long term, may be the only realistic
    way out of the cycle of hatred and animosity. I think a political
    solution cannot be imposed from above until the people involved
    see the advantages and benefits of thriving together
    economically.

    • Fantastic idea. I already envision Ben Gurion’s wish………..As for living in peace with our cousins, that will take generations……….As it ain’t working now…….Trust takes time to build………..

      • I like your philosophy but I don’t see how it will be possible to live with the Arabs in peace when nearly all their resources have been going to teaching and fomenting hate for both the present and for future generations. Almost everything in their culture, such as their songs, their writing, and their art promotes hatred. It is a crime punishable by death for an Arab to sell land to a Jew in the PA controlled parts of Israel!! I can’t imagine that an Arab growing up in such an atmosphere could even be expected to look at Israelis as possible partners.

    • My reply to Nomi was meant to be a reply to you.

  • The barren Negev desert will bloom and this vast land will develop an economy that all may enjoy

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    The lead actor in Son of Saul, an Auschwitz thriller featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, told the UK’s The Guardian that he believes God was “holding the hand” of each Jew who died in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust. “I do not for one nanosecond like to pretend that God is off the hook. He could and should have stopped it at a much earlier stage,” Géza Röhrig, 48, said. ”But I would not be able to get [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys singer Howie Dorough took to Instagram on Tuesday to marvel about climbing the famed Masada fortress with his band during their visit to Israel, where they will perform this week for the first time. The group’s second day of sightseeing in the Jewish state included the Masada hike, and taking a mud bath at the Dead Sea. A picture from the band’s official Twitter page shows the five singers covered in mud. While relaxing in the Dead Sea, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews US & Canada ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    A new book and its upcoming film adaptation tell the true story of how three former yeshiva students who habitually smoked marijuana scored a $300 million contract from the U.S. government to supply weapons for the Afghan Army, the New York Daily News reported on Sunday. Arms and the Dudes details how the Miami Beach potheads became “the most unlikely gunrunners in history,” according to the book’s author, investigative reporter Guy Lawson. The tale begins with Efraim Diveroli, nephew of [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    JNS.org – Natalie Portman, who directs and stars in the new Hebrew-language film adaptation of author Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness, says that despite Oz’s record as a vocal left-wing critic of Israel, her film is not political. Like the book on which it is based, Portman’s film is about a young boy at the time of the founding of the state of Israel. “I think the movie is very much about this very particular, specific family story. Of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.