Monday, June 25, 2007

A Home for Israel’s Soldiers

Let’s keep away from the political scene this week.

After all, people do try and live normal lives in Israel.

But we will stick with the IDF and see how they’re doing on the home front.

Well, the good news is the Government has recently approved the establishment of a number of military neighborhoods in the Negev.

Since IDF training bases will now be moved south, hundreds of career soldiers will need new homes.

And based on the success of the first such neighborhood - Zahala in North East Tel Aviv – and others such as Reut-Maccabim, Kohav Yair and Kfar Yonah, that’s good news for the local economy.

One of “our aims is to arouse the hard hit real estate market in the Negev – both qualitatively and quantitatively,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Jackie Suissa, Head of Housing Projects in the IDF’s Human Resources Division.

“And it’s a 20% savings on market prices for every family.”

Such neighborhoods also raise the value of the rest of the city too.

The army’s aim is to provide its top ‘employees’ with choice physical living conditions so they are not tempted away to Hi-Tech, business or other fields.

And for the career soldiers, knowing who your neighbors are before you move is also a big plus!

However, there are of course those who oppose this particular ‘military strategy.’

Professor Yossi Katz, Head of the Geography Department at Bar-Ilan University, argues these neighborhoods will just create elites and widen the socio-economic gaps in their host cities.

And since career soldiers are traditionally moved from job to job, he claims there’s no guarantee that families who buy houses will actually live there. Especially when the Negev is not so attractive in terms of education, culture, sport etc.

Or the environment.

The Greens were out demonstrating this morning against the Government’s decision.
“We are against the establishment of these training bases before the pollution failings – which cause breathing problems, birth defects and ,miscarriages – are dealt with,” says Didi Zilberman, spokesperson of the student environmental group at Ben-Gurion University.

“Why endanger the lives of soldiers unnecessarily?”

The problem is the nearby Ramat Hovav Industrial Park, notorious for its heavy air pollution.

In response, the Government claims the highest pollution standards have been maintained there for the last year and a half. At any rate, whatever the arguments for and against, I’m sure a solution will be found pretty quickly...

Unlike the political situation we wanted to keep away from this week!

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