New Negev Town for 100,000 Hareidim

National Planning Council authorizes the establishment of Kassif in southern Israel, specifically geared to the hareidi community.

Moshe Cohen ,

Flash 90

The National Planning Council on Tuesday authorized the establishment of a new city that will be specifically geared to the hareidi community.

Kassif, to be located in the eastern Negev, will have 16,000 housing units to start, and will include services, work opportunities, schools, and other features specifically designed to appeal to hareidi homebuyers. Planners foresee a population of about 100,000 people within a decade.

Plans will now be prepared by local authorities and planning councils, and will go through a vetting and approval process. That is expected to take about two years, with the first parcels to be auctioned off to contractors in 2017.

Kassif, which has been on the planning agenda since 2007, is to be built near Tel Arad, which is west of the Negev city of Arad located near the Dead Sea. The city will be build on 6,400 dunams, and consist mostly of apartment buildings four and five stories tall.

The Council approved the plan despite several objections, mostly by environmental awareness groups who were concerned that the massive construction and development would negatively impact the local environment.

Kassif is not near any concentrations of secular residents, unlike Harish in Wadi Ara, which was also supposed to be designated for the hareidi public. Secular groups, hoping to keep the hareidim away, bid on many of the parcels that were auctioned off and won them, and as a result hareidi groups withdrew their support for the project.

While some expressed concern that Kassif was somewhat isolated and located far from hareidi population centers, Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) said that a good transportation network was planned for the city, with express buses taking residents to Jerusalem, Ashdod, Bnei Brak, and other large hareidi communities.

The project, said Ariel, will “help solve the housing shortage in the hareidi community over the coming years. We will continue to seek solutions that will increase the amount of housing and lower its cost for all communities in Israel.”