Wye-era base built by US set to open

Ultra-modern Nachshonim base agreed upon at height of Oslo Accords.

Agreed upon when Israel and the Palestinians were at the height of implementing the Oslo Accords, the Defense Ministry on Tuesday dedicates an ultra modern base financed and largely built by the Americans so Israel could more easily quit the West Bank. The Nachshonim base on the seam-line northeast of Shoham is to serve as a home base and supply depot for a reserve armored division. Senior Defense Ministry and US officials are expected to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new $125 million base was constructed jointly by Israel and the United States located next to Kibbutz Nachshonim south of Rosh Ha'ayin. The base is also called Nachshonim. Spread out on 1,700 dunams of rolling scrubland, the bases boasts 23,000 sq. m. of constructed space in some 210 buildings. Over 23 km. of roads were paved on the base. It includes rifle ranges, gymnasiums, weight rooms, classrooms, a synagogue, obstacle course and clubhouses. It also has mess halls, barracks and administration buildings, helipad, clinic and a power station. But the largest investment was in its logistical center for the divisional forces that include 10 separate company staging areas. It is here that, in an emergency, the division will report to be equipped and outfit their tanks for battle. "The facility provides the IDF with a location for storing military equipment for decades," a US embassy statement said. "With specialized storage units to control humidity and dust levels, the base will store supplies, vehicles and other equipment that artillery, infantry and armored brigades will need during a call up." It is the third and largest in a series of bases the Americans agreed to build as part of the Wye River Memorandum. That agreement, made when Binyamin Netanyahyu was prime minister and Yitzhak Mordecahi was his defense minister, obligated Israel to relocate its military facilities from the West Bank. At least $266 million had been earmarked for this out of US aid to Israel. Other bases completed as part of the Wye memorandum were the Shomera paratrooper training base and the Regavim base. The main contractor for the construction job was the US Army Corps of Engineers, which subcontracted to local companies. It was designed and planned by the IDF and the Ministry of Defense's construction department. US Ambassador to Israel Richard H. Jones is expected to attend the opening, and Col. Margaret Burcham, commander of the Europe District for the US Army Corps of Engineers is expected to make an address. Also on hand will be Jacob Toren, director-general of the Ministry of Defense as well as IDF brass. The US Army Corps of Engineers constructed the Uvda air base near Eilat and the Ramon base as part of the Camp David Accords with Egypt.