After several years of planning and deliberation, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Monday that it would initiate a project to transfer its Military Intelligence Directorate from central Israel to the southern Negev region.
The announcement came after the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the Shikun & Binui company signed a contract over the move, according to which the company will plan, fund and set up the campus at Likit Junction near Beersheva.
According to Walla news, facilities will house 12,000 soldiers and officers from the Combat Intelligence Collection; Military Intelligence Directorate, Cyber and Technology units; and Military Intelligence Headquarters personnel.
The move is scheduled to be complete by 2028.
During a ceremony held to mark the agreement, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, described the move south as a “historic and very important chapter in the IDF’s life.”
He said it would be a strategic opportunity for renewal and growth, adding that the Military Intelligence Directorate will “play a significant role in making the desert bloom.”
The cost of the program is estimated at 4.2 billion shekels (about $1.3 billion).
“The IDF was and continues to be a pioneer in making the Negev bloom and strengthening Israeli society,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz. “The agreement we signed is more evidence of the fact that the IDF is an inseparable part of the nation; it builds it and is built by it. This is a big challenge and a big opportunity for the state, society and the IDF.”
He added that the conditions at the new base will upgrade the directorate’s capabilities, while the supporting services will lead to a substantial improvement of transport infrastructure from central Israel to southern Israel.
“In addition, the assistance to families who choose to move here in subsidized housing and employment solutions will upgrade the entire south,” said Gantz.