The new air force base in Nevatim was inaugurated today in an official ceremony headed by the air force commander. During the ceremony, Col. Amir transferred the command to Brig. Gen. Eden who previously commanded the Sdeh-Dov air base.
Later, the air force commander hosted at the “International Squadron” several VIPs: President Shimon Peres, Chief of General Staf Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, his deputy Maj. Gen. Dan Har’el, head of intelligence Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, and other senior staff. The group met with regional officials, and was later briefed on the base, and the meaning of the move of the air force into the southern Negev region. At the ribbon cutting ceremony and mezuzah installation (a Jewish ritual), President Peres was joined by the Minister of Defence, Ehud Barak.
“It is hard to believe how the vision becomes a reality. The desert is coming to life, with state of the art technology installed, and loads of people making the move here. Nevatim base is now one of the biggest and most important at the air force”, said Maj. Gen. Nehushtan. “Nevatim base is unique both in its size as well as its strategic important”, he added.
“The inauguration of the base is one of many steps towards making Ben-Gurion’s vision a reality”, said Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, referring to Israel’s first Prime Minister’s vision to make the desert bloom. Ben-Gurion believed that the barren Negev desert offered an opportunity for the Jews to settle. “I am confident that you will make us all proud with your hard work and dedication, in making the vision a reality”.
Minister of Defence, Ehud Barak, discussed the plan to transfer additional military units to the southern parts of Israel. “The great challenges ahead of us are bound to transform the desert into a vibrant and most beautiful settlement area we have in Israel”.
“Our future lies in the Negev. In tackling pollution and terrorism, the south is bound to become our new center”, announced President Shimon Peres. He then shared some of his travel stories, during his service at the Palmach, the underground army of the Jewish community during the British Mandate of Palestine.
In conclusion of his speech, the President revealed the new symbol of the base, accompanied by the IDF Orchestra. The Air Force Band concluded the ceremony with a symbolic song: “You are the pillar of fire before the camp”.