Tzrifin base in central Israel.
(photo credit: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
The Defense Ministry has cleared 120 hectares of the Tzrifin military base near Rishon Lezion, as it continues to demolish the base and move its units to southern Israel in order to make way for residential construction in the center of the country.
The Defense Ministry, along with the IDF’s Engineering and Construction Department and Logistics Operations and Properties Department, have been evacuating the base for over four years. Under an agreement with the government, it will hand over the evacuated area of over 20 hectares of the central part of the base to the Israel Land Authority (ILA).
“To date, more than 1,200 dunams [120 hectares] and hundreds of thousands of square meters of buildings and infrastructure have been evacuated,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Sunday, adding that the land will be used to construct thousands of residential units and commercial areas instead.
According to the statement, the center of the base has recently been evacuated, including its commercial center, its cinema and the memorial to those killed in the Battle of the Sarafand.
The historic buildings on the base that were designated as historical will be preserved in their original form, and will “form an inseparable part” of the residential neighborhood that will be built there, the statement added.
Tzrifin was established during the British Mandate, when it was known as Sarafand al-Amar. The base covers about 320 hectares, and is the largest base that the Defense Ministry has evacuated since the establishment of the state.
“This is a complex and challenging evacuation, which is carried out while maintaining the functioning of the other units in the camp,” said Maj. Galit Yosef, head of the base relocation project.
She added that the move is a “historic moment,” which comes with “mixed feelings” as the base – and its commercial center in particular – has “served as a symbol for all the troops who have passed through the base since the establishment of the state and the occupation of the British base that was located there in the past.”
Nevertheless, the move will allow the military to “improve the infrastructure for troops and improve efficiency,” she said.
Lt.-Col. Gilanat Krief, head of project management at the Engineering and Construction Department, called the move a “logistics operation in which a large number of contractors take part... We place special emphasis on the history and heritage of the Tzrifin base in order to ensure that its symbols will be preserved for the benefit of future generations.”
Over 40,000 sq.m. of built-up areas, over 100,000 sq.m. of infrastructure, and hundreds of structures in Tzrifin have already been destroyed by the IDF and the Defense Ministry, including Training Base 10, which served the Medical Corps; Training Base 6, which served the Logistics Corps; Ground Forces unit buildings; and Training Base 20, which served as the technological training complex for the IDF’s Ordnance Corps.
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