The Israel Defense Forces' new training complex in the Negev will be named after late former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz announced on Sunday.
The Ariel Sharon Training Complex (or the City of Training Bases, as it is commonly known) is an ambitious IDF undertaking which will see numerous military training schools relocating to the new complex. Policymakers hope the pooling of resources will cut costs, as well as free up lucrative real estate in central Israel, and create jobs in southern Israel.
The decision, which was based on the recommendations of a special panel, was further approved by Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon.
Meanwhile, the Education Ministry has instructed teachers to honor the late prime minister and his life achievements throughout the week.
"Sharon's contribution will be discussed in every school. The people in charge of our schools consider it important to remember the contribution of leaders; the focus will be on Sharon's leadership as a military and political figure," said Dana Friedman, the ministry's social studies supervisor.
"We advised elementary school teachers to create a mock identity card for Sharon, one that would feature events that shaped his career and the leaders who had an impact on him. We prepared an entire toolkit for teachers, one that includes video clips and newspaper articles. We will discuss his leadership style. Teachers and school principals will be able to choose which methods to employ."
Friedman said the ministry had faith that the teachers and principals would know how to properly present the topic in a way that fits each school. She noted that the ministry had uploaded a variety of lesson plans and educational material on its website on Sunday, covering the controversial disengagement -- Sharon's unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip and from part of northern Samaria -- and his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in 2005. The site notes that the speech reflects "his beliefs and worldview during his premiership."
"I was born in the Land of Israel, the son of pioneers," Sharon told the assembly. "They worked the land. They did not spoil for a fight, nor did not seek to expel the land's inhabitants. Were it not for the circumstances that emerged, I would not have ended up as a soldier. I should have been a farmer. My first love was manual labor; it still is.
"Fate had it that I would turn into a warrior. I was commander and a leader in all of Israel's wars. I extend my hand to the Palestinians. I want a compromise and reconciliation. I want to put an end to the bloodshed and to embark together on the path toward peace and understanding for both people. I consider that my calling, this is going to be my life mission for the next few years."