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IDF “City” Is the Negev’s Latest Game-Changer

IDF “City” Is the Negev’s Latest Game-Changer

December 22, 2016

Negev Development & Community Programs

JNS — A not-so-quiet demographic and geographic revolution is taking place in Israel. After years of planning, concrete efforts are underway to shift populations — particularly educated and younger sectors of Israeli society — away from the overcrowded center of the country. Destination: Beer-Sheva and the Negev.

This change is well underway at the new Israel Defense Forces “city” now rising up out of the Negev sands. This is the culmination of a huge effort to centralize the IDF’s most advanced training bases in one ultra-modern facility.


The new Israel Defense Forces city of training bases in the Negev

“Encouraging high-level career personnel to come and populate the Negev is a great contribution to the country,” says Col. Avi Motola, commander of the new base. “The IDF ultimately sees itself relocating the majority of soldiers to the Negev.”

The need for support staff for the 10,000 soldiers will provide jobs for hundreds of Negev residents, and another boon to the city of Beer-Sheva’s rapidly growing economy. Called the “capital of the Negev,” this booming metropolis has seen unprecedented growth in the past few years.

It’s the Advanced Technologies Park (ATP) that is the centerpiece of this economic revitalization. After the IDF moved its prestigious Computer Services Directorate to Ben-Gurion University in 2013, the foundation was set for a joint initiative between the Beer-Sheva municipality and the University. Thus, the ATP, inaugurated in 2013, was born.

Gav-Yam Negev Advanced Technologies Park (ATP)

Gav-Yam Negev Advanced Technologies Park (ATP)

“The three elements of academia, industry and the government led to a unique opportunity for a collaborative research ecosystem,” says BGU spokesman Ehud Zion-Waldoks. BGU’s student body of 20,000 includes 8,000 engineering students, ultimately producing one-third of all engineers in Israel.

Several prominent international companies including Dell, T-Mobile, IBM, and Oracle have taken notice, and have opened operations in the University-adjacent ATP. Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion famously stated that “Israel’s capacity for science and research will be tested in the Negev.” If the current trends are any indication, that test is being passed with flying colors.

The ATP was the brainchild of a former president of BGU, Prof. Avishay Braverman. Groundbreaking of the high-tech park took place in 2007.

Read more on the JNS website >>