I want to tell you the story of Sde Dov, a former Tel Aviv City Airport. Today, when one stands in the middle of the quiet sand dunes, Tel Aviv from the distance looks like an abandoned post-Armageddon place. But this is far from being a true picture! Sde Dov, which will soon become one of the new and very expensive neighborhoods of modern Tel Aviv, is a site of a unique history, dating back over 2,800 years.
Sde Dov today
Located at the heart of Tel Aviv and along the Mediterranean coastline, Tel Aviv Sde Dov Airport used to serve the residents of the city and the surrounding area, as well as having served as a long-time base for the Israeli Air Force (IAF).
The historical decision to build an airport north of the Yarkon River, at the Northern outskirts of 1930-ies Tel Aviv, emanated from the wish to ensure safe airborne traffic between Tel Aviv and other cities of the British Mandate Palestine during the time of the Great Arab Revolt against the British, when travelling from Tel Aviv through Arab territory to the main airport at Lydda (Ben-Gurion International Airport in Lod, today), to catch Palestine Airways flights to Haifa, was difficult and dangerous.
Start of Sde Dov Construction
In 1937, Israel Rokach, the mayor of Tel Aviv at the time, appealed to the British Mandate authorities in order to construct the airport. Sde Dov became a home base of Palestine Airways, private airline founded back in 1934 by Pinhas Rutenberg, who was not only a father of the first Airline in Palestine but also of the Palestinian Electricity Company (Israel Electric Corporation today). In 1940, the airport's name was changed to Sde Dov, in memory of Dov Hoz, one of the pioneers of Jewish aviation.
Sde Dov Under British Control
The airport was built at the north from the Reading Power Plant, the first Palestinian turbine electrical plant, called after Rufus Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading, Lord Chief Justice of England and Viceroy of India, who became chairman of the Palestine Electric Corporation in 1926.
Meanwhile, the Airport served passenger flights to Haifa and Beirut. But already in August 1940 it was taken by the British, turned into Royal Air Force Base and was used as a British Army base until December 1947 when with British permission the runway was reopened by the Jewish Defense Forces, Haganah. In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War (Israeli War of Independence), the airport served as a base to the Israeli Air Force. It was IAF' central base, home to 21 aircraft at the time.
Sde Dov ceased operations on 30 June 2019 after a controversial, long-delayed plan came into effect to close the airport in order to build high-end residential apartments on its valuable beachfront property. Commercial flights were moved to Ben Gurion Airport. Over 16,0.00 housing units are scheduled to be built at Sde Dov site in the near future.
Sde Dov today and in the future
In conclusion, it would be wrong not adding few words about the history of the site. Already in the VIII CBC, the Northern bank of Yarkon River was fortified by the Assyrian Empire. This well preserved small fortress still stands before the entrance to the Reading Station.
This was also the site of the night crossing of the river by the British expeditionary corps during the Historical December 1917 Battle of Jaffa.
Reading Power Plant was among the targets of the Italian Air Force attack on Tel Aviv in 1940. And Sde Dov itself, together with Reading Power Station, was attacked by the Egyptian Air Force attack on Tel Aviv in 1948.
Long history, beautiful views and a bright future – this is Sde Dov in Tel Aviv!
Sde Dov before and now
Exploring Sde Dov in COVID days