The U.S. is planning to construct a five-story underground bunker for the Israel Defense Forces, to be named “Site 911,” the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will build the $100 million site at an Israeli Air Force base near Tel Aviv. The project is expected to take more than two years to complete.
The facility, according to the Post, will have classrooms on Level 1, an auditorium on Level 3, a laboratory, and shock-resistant doors and protection from non-ionizing radiation. All construction workers involved in the project will need security clearances, while guards will be posted at the barrier that separates the bunker from the rest of the base.
Only U.S. construction firms, the Washington Post reported, are being allowed to bid on the contract. Proposals are due Dec. 3, according to the latest Corps of Engineers notice, published in its internal publication.
Over the years, the Corps has built underground hangars for Israeli fighter jets, facilities for handling nuclear weapons (which Israel has never admitted to possessing), command centers, training bases, intelligence facilities and simulators, according to Corps publications.
"Site 911" appears to be one of the largest projects the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has ever undertaken. Each of the first three underground floors is to be roughly 41,000 square feet (approximately 3,800 square meters), according to the Corps notice. The lower two floors are to be much smaller and hold equipment, the Post reported.
According to the Post report, security concerns are so great that non-Israeli employees hired by the builders can only come from a limited number of countries, including “the U.S., Canada, Western European countries, Poland, Moldavia, Thailand, Philippines, Venezuela, Romania and China."
"The employment of Palestinians is also forbidden," the Corps notice read. Meanwhile, according to the Post report, when the Pentagon was asked to comment on the nature and purpose of the site, it responded that only Israel's Defense Ministry was authorized to answer questions.
Among other security rules stipulated in the Corps notice: The site “shall have one gate only for both entering and exiting the site” and “no exit or entrance to the site shall be allowed during work hours except for supply trucks.” Guards will be Israeli citizens with experience in the Israeli Air Force. Also, “the collection of information of any type whatsoever related to base activities is prohibited.”
Within the past two years the Corps, which has three offices in Israel, completed a $30 million set of hangars at Nevatim air base, which the Corps magazine describes as a “former small desert outpost that has grown to be one of the largest and most modern air bases in the country.” It has also supervised a $20 million project to build maintenance shops, hangars and headquarters to support Israel’s large Eitan unmanned aerial vehicle.