“Solel Boneh – The Hebrew Workers’ Cooperative Company for Public Works, Construction and Industry” was established by the General Union of Hebrew Workers in the Land of Israel (the “Histadrut”), on the foundations of the “Construction and Public Works Office”. The Company was meant to become the construction and public works executive arm of the Histadrut in the Land of Israel and a mechanism for immigrant absorption and professional training of workers.
Solel Boneh’s first quarry was built in Migdal Tzedek (between Rosh Haayin and Elad, near Kibbutz Nachshonim). The first group of workers consisted of 11 men and women who had immigrated to Israel during the “3rd Aliya”. In 1929, an additional quarry was built at the same location and the “Migdal Tzedek Lime and Gravel Factories Ltd.” company was established along with “Stone & Lime Industries, Ltd” (a subsidiary of Solel Boneh).
The hydroelectric power station in Naharayim was built by Pinchas Rotenberg in order to utilize the waters of the Jordan and Yarmuk Rivers to supply electricity in Pre-State Israel and Transjordan. This plant was meant to be the first of four power stations that Rotenberg planned on establishing along the length of the Jordan Valley.
When referring to his choice of Solel Boneh workers to carry out the project, Rotenberg said: “Where else can you find workers who are willing to strike if no one explains to them what they are building?”
The Construction of the Tel Aviv Port – the First Hebrew Port
The dream of a Hebrew port in the Land of Israel was born almost simultaneously with the birth of the city of Tel Aviv, when Jaffa port was the country’s main maritime gateway. Following the outbreak of the Great Arab Revolt in April 1936 and the Arab general strike that resulted in the closure of Jaffa port, there was growing public pressure on the British Mandate to end Tel Aviv’s economic dependency on Jaffa. On May 15, 1936, the British Mandate allowed food cargo to be unloaded onto the beaches of Tel Aviv. Within 24 hours, a road, a customs shed and a short wooden pier were built. On May 19, approximately one month after the 1936 revolt started, the Tel Aviv port was born when the first ship, the “Chaterty”, carrying a cargo of cement bags, anchored off the coast opposite the wooden pier.
Massive Involvement in the Establishment of the “Tower and Stockade” (“Choma Umigdal”) Settlements
A series of operations during the 1936-1939 riots and shortly thereafter, to build fortified Jewish agricultural settlements which were meant to create facts on the ground, to expand the Jewish settlements’ boundaries and to increase the area of the future state. The operation was initiated by the Hagana organization, and the main Jewish settlement institutions, such as the Jewish Agency, Keren Hayesod, the Jewish National Fund and the Histadrut, all participated in the project.
(Archive photography: Zoltan Kluger, The Government Press Office).
The establishment of a Royal Engineering Company consisting of Solel Boneh employees, who served and fought in Europe.
The 745 Artisan Works Coy RE was named the “Solel Boneh Company” since at the core of the company was a group of volunteers from among Solel Boneh’s employees, and the commander, Major Haimovitch, was one of the Solel Boneh’s senior work managers. The members of the 745 Artisan Works Coy RE engaged in constructing camps, restoring bridges, building air fields, and installing water lines. 745 Artisan Works Coy RE also trained in combat engineering, missions. Towards the end of the Second World War, the company was primarily engaged in restoring and constructing bridges and repairing traffic arteries. After the victory of the allied forces, 745 Artisan Works Coy RE was returned to the Middle East and was thereafter decommissioned and demobilized.
Veteran Construction Workers Defined as “Stable”.
The company’s permanent employees were organized in the “Solel Boneh Stables” organization, which achieved better terms of employment than those prevalent in the construction industry and which provided its members with advanced cultural and welfare services.
Beginning of Work on the National Water Carrier.
The National Water Carrier is the main artery of Israel’s water grid and integrates most of the water plants in the country. The National Water Carrier allows efficient utilization of the water resources in Israel and the transport thereof from the rainy North through the center of the country and down to the dry Negev. The National Water Carrier begins in the Sea of Galilee and runs for approximately 130 kilometers. The initial plans to build the National Water Carrier were prepared prior to the establishment of the State, but it only became possible to design specific plans following 1948. In 1956, actual work on the Carrier began, and continued until the Carrier was inaugurated on June 10, 1964.
Beginning of the Construction of the Knesset – the Israel Parliament Building
Solel Boneh was the prime contractor in the construction of the Knesset, which included Knesset Plaza, the Plenary Hall, the Lounges, the Knesset Committees’ Conference Rooms, the Library, the Archives, the Synagogue, the cafeteria, and the Knesset Members’ chambers. The location of the Knesset, next to the Government Complex was meant, among other things, to symbolize the principle of the separation of powers. The Knesset Plaza was located on the northern side of the Knesset building, as a means of protection against possible firing from Jordan. The building was built in accordance with the design of Architect Joseph Klarwein and was funded by a donation from the Baron James de Rothschild.
The works continued through 1966.
Building the First Neighborhoods of the Development Town of Arad.
Design of the Arad region, with the city of Arad at its core, started at the beginning of the 1960’s. The purpose of the town’s location was to populate the empty area in the north east part of the Negev and to establish a focal point for a new settlement region. In 1962, Arad received its first inhabitants, most of whom were directed there by the Government.
The construction of Military Bases and Airfields in Sinai - Ofir Airfield, Solomon’s Bay and others. The works continued through 1972. Upon the completion of the paving of the runway at the Ofir Airfield, General Mordechai Hod, the commander of the Air Force at the time, wrote to the manager of the Public Works and Construction company, which was founded by Solel Boneh, as follows: “We are very pleased that the workers were “infected” by the Air Force’s renowned pace and with their dedication and faithfulness were able to complete work of the utmost importance within a very short period of time. I would ask that you convey my greetings and gratitude to all of those who took part in this handsome project, which can serve as an example for all paving and construction works in the country.”
Beginning of the Construction of the Teheran Hilton Hotel (the construction continued through 1973)
Solel Boneh’s international activity, which began in the 1950’s, developed significantly during the 1970’s. During these years, Solel Boneh operated in developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America, where it built hundreds of projects, while employing and training tens of thousands of local employees who were managed by Israeli teams. These countries included: Persia, Cyprus, Togo, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Argentina, Thailand, Venezuela, Djibouti, Zambia, Nepal, Ethiopia and more. Over the years Solel Boneh’s reputation, and consequently, the reputation of the State of Israel, spread worldwide, positioning Solel Boneh among the leading contractors worldwide.
Photograph: Safdie Architects.
Restoration of the Border Settlements following the Yom Kippur War.
During the war and thereafter, profitable projects in urban areas were suspended and Solel Boneh employees were sent all along the borders to build security rooms and fortifications. When the fighting ended, the Company was engaged in rehabilitating border settlements.
In the photo: Building new residential homes at Kibbutz Merom Golan (Photographer: Nissim Gabai, 1974)
Winning the Kaplan Award for Building an Innovative Cement Factory in Togo, Africa.
In a remote area in Togo that suffers from supply and communications difficulties, a Solel Boneh team succeeded in building an innovative cement factory, while training the local population to work with advanced technologies. The Company received international acclaim for constructing the factory in a successful, high-quality and precise manner.
Photographer: Claude Perez
Paving of a Road to the Egyptian Terminal on the New Israel-Egypt Border.
Between 1967 and 1982 Israel controlled most of the Sinai Peninsula. Following the signing of the Peace Treaty with Egypt in 1979, a new border was set between the countries. The border was the line defined and demarcated in the 1906 agreement between the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire (also known as the Aqaba – Rafah line). This border served as a ceasefire line between Israel and Egypt between 1949 and 1967, except for the Gaza Strip, which was then controlled by Egypt.
Photography: Tal Or Benny, The Government Press Office
Construction of the “Marganit” Building in General Military Headquarters (the “Kirya”) and Winning of the Kaplan Award
The Marganit Tower is an office building and communication tower at the Rabin Base in the Kirya in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. When built, it was the second tallest building in Israel, following the Shalom Tower. The Marganit Tower quickly became one of the symbols of Tel Aviv. The lower 17 floors of the tower are office floors. Part of the building, which is 138 meters high, has the form of a concrete finger that has several balconies, on which various types of antennae are stationed.
Following the economic crisis in Israel in the mid-1980’s, “Shikun & Binui Holdings Ltd.” was established as part of the recovery plan for the “Workers Company”. “Shikun & Binui Holdings Ltd.” concentrated the company’s construction and infrastructure activity which had been carried out by Solel Boneh and “Shikun Ovdim” (eventually becoming “Shikun & Binui Real Estate”).
Beginning of the Construction of the Chimney at the Israel Electric Company’s Power Plant in Hadera.
Beginning of the Paving of Road 6 - the Cross Israel Highway.
The Cross Israel Highway is the first road in Israel that was paved as a BOT (build, operate, transfer) project and is also the longest highway and the first toll road in Israel. To date, the road is 138 km long, has 12 interchanges, two tunnels (500m) and 100 bridges, and is expected, over the coming years, to reach a total length of 247 km. Shikun & Binui won the tender for this project along with a local partner and a Canadian company. This partnership operated under the “Derech Eretz” company. The central segments were opened to the public between 2002 and 2004. In July 2009, the company completed the 18th segment of the Cross Israel Highway.
Building a New Congress and Exhibition Center on the Exhibition Grounds in Tel Aviv.
A new congress and exhibition center with an impressive, large multi-purpose hall without pillars that accommodates the largest and most important events and congresses, was built in the heart of the Exhibition Grounds. The hall was built with combined concrete-steel construction and includes a special spatial roof on an underground parking lot. The facility includes a main plenary hall, secondary halls, a lobby and offices.
The works ended in 2005.
The Relocation of Five “Templer” Houses in the Sarona Neighborhood in Tel Aviv, within the framework of the Expansion of Kaplan Street.
The five structures were built in 1868 by Templers (members of a Temple organization, a protestant religious movement that was established in the South of France in the middle of the 19th century.) These historic building were relocated in a manner that conformed with environmental and conservation values, while accommodating the need to increase the flow of traffic on Kaplan Street. First, the foundations were sawn and the structure was detached from the ground. The Dutch company Mammoet, whose expertise is heavy duty lifting equipment, was involved in the works.
The works ended in 2006.
Laying a Natural Gas Conveyor Pipeline to Israel (Stages 1 and 2) – a Joint Project with the Italian Ghizzoni S.p.a Company.
A 24-inch diameter 80-atmosphere pressure steel gas pipeline, valve stations and PRMS stations. Stage 1: 92 km through the Nesher – Sorek – Ashdod segments and the Sorek – Ashdod – Ashkelon segments. Stage 2: 135 km at the Kiryat Gat – Sedom segment. The project was carried out with diligent concern for the natural environment. Special measures included strict landscape restoration, collection of geophytes and seeds from along the pipe’s route, storing them and replanting them after the pipe was laid, and cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority so as to minimize any damage to the view.
The works ended in 2009.
Beginning of Works on the Carmel Tunnels Project
The first urban toll road system of its kind in Israel that integrates a complex set-up of infrastructures with advanced technology, and in which approximately NIS 1,500,000,000 were invested. The concession for the project was awarded to the Carmelton company, which was established as an equal partnership between Shikun & Binui and the Ashtrom group. Environmental concerns received significant consideration in the construction of the tunnels. In order to preserve the quality of the local residents’ lives, a monitoring mechanism was created, in accordance with Ministry of Environmental Protection guidelines.
The works continued until 2010.
Beginning the construction of the Desalination Facility in Hadera
The facility was established by Shikun & Binui adjacent to the “Orot Rabin” power plant in Hadera. H2ID, a consortium of IDE technologies, and Shikun & Binui, which financed, built and operates the desalination facility, won the BOT project. The facility has a production capacity of approximately 127 million cubic meters of high quality potable water per year, using the reverse osmosis technology. In accordance with the agreement signed with the State of Israel, the group operates the facility as a private business over a period of 25 years. Upon the lapse of the contract period (in 2032) the facility shall be handed over and become government property.
The works were completed in 2010
An Agreement between Tel Aviv University and Shikun & Binui Real Estate was signed, pursuant to which the Shikun & Binui group is responsible for renovating and upgrading the “Einstein” student dormitory complex, for building an additional new dormitory complex in the “Broshim” complex, and for operating both of the complexes.
The planning of the renovated dormitory complex took global trends of trash recycling and green environment into consideration.
In addition to the renovation of the rooms, the public areas and the gardens shall also be renovated and modernized and expanded in order to facilitate a unique campus atmosphere, which shall combine residential and academic atmospheres.
Launching the “7th Ave.” project in Be’er Sheva – a uniquely designed open shopping boulevard.
The construction of “7th Ave.” took the climate and environmental planning of the region into consideration and it was designed in accordance with the concept of an open air shopping boulevard. Green elements integrated into the construction of the boulevard include controlled design of winds and heat, unique flora, including deciduous trees, that allow for natural ventilation (during the warm season), and exposure to passive heating (during the cold season), air conditioning produced by water evaporation cooling towers, recycling of materials to reduce waste, etc.
The group’s headquarters moved to the new location at Airport City, which was designed to comply with the internationally recognized American LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system for ‘green buildings’. The Shikun & Binui building is the third building in Israel to be awarded the Gold certification and the first in Israel to be awarded the LEED certification for the design and construction of the building’s interior.
Among the “green” elements of the building: bins for sorting and separating waste; use of green gases in the air conditioning systems; special carpets that prevent dust accumulation; and glass dividers coated with special material that prevents build up of dust and particles and reduces the need to use cleaning chemicals.
Beginning of the construction of the “Chalomot Tzukei Hashmura” Residential Project
The sea-front project, facing the Iris Nature Reserve in Netanya, is designed in perfect harmony with nature. The project includes three towers that face the sea and the nature Reserve - while also experiencing a warm sense of community among the three buildings which share communal social, cultural and athletic facilities. Artistic boulevards connect between the buildings, allowing passage from one to another without exposure to sun, wind or rain. At this stage, the project’s design has led to its certification as a green project.