At an Israeli air force base not far from Tel Aviv, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will supervise construction of a $100 million five-floor underground facility for the Israel Defense Forces termed “Site 911,” and no one in the press, including The Washington Post’s national security reporter, seems to know its precise purpose.
According to construction plans, “the facility is to have classrooms on Level 1, an auditorium on Level 3, a laboratory, shock-resistant doors, protection from nonionizing radiation and [of course] very tight security,” the Post’s Walter Pincus writes.
Site 911 will be the latest in a long string of construction projects the U.S. has undertaken for the Israeli military, including underground hangars for fighter bombers, facilities for the handling and storage of nuclear weapons, training bases, and command and intelligence centers. At roughly 41,000 square feet per each of its first three floors, the new site appears to be one of the Corps’ largest projects.
No one appears able to say exactly what will happen on those floors though. In an article in the Post, Pincus spent three paragraphs describing how the complex will be built according to Jewish law. Beyond that, he couldn’t get a straight answer from the Pentagon.
What’s the purpose of Site 911? I asked the Pentagon on Tuesday, and the Corps on Wednesday said that only an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman could provide an answer.
This may be a trend-starter. The Corps is also seeking a contractor for another secret construction project in Israel in the $100 million range to awarded next summer. This one will involve “a complex facility with site development challenges” requiring services that include “electrical, communication, mechanical/?HVAC [heating, ventilation, air conditioning] and plumbing.” The U.S. contractor must have a U.S. secret or equivalent Israeli security clearance for the project, which is expected to take almost 21 / 2 years to complete.