- ...the [Israeli Defense Forces] realized that it had to push its engineering corps to improve its “art of destruction,” which had apparently spun out of control. As part of these efforts, two months after the attack on Jenin, in June 2002, the military started to build a series of urban warfare training sites and to upgrade existing ones. The mock-up town of Shizafon (last image), located in the Negev desert and hidden from view by mountains, reflects Israeli Orientalist fantasy.
Another small mock-up town called Chicago and also located in the Negev, was upgraded into the world’s largest fabricated Oriental city since the filming of Ben-Hur. In fact the “urban” history of Chicago has shadow-tracked much of the history of the military operations that have taken place in the Middle East, reflecting a series of changes in how Israel imagines its security.
The core of Chicago was built as a small training site for IDF urban operations in Lebanon. It later expanded to accommodate the training of IDF special forces for their aborted operation to assassinate Saddam Hussein in Tiqrit. Chicago further expanded before the Iraq war to allow for heavy military vehicles and was used for training by the US Marines. In the summer of 2005, training for the evacuation of the Gaza settlements took place there, with actors playing settlers barricading themselves within their homes. Chicago now includes an area called the Kasbah (a historical-looking market area with narrow alleys), an urban outskirts, a refugee camp, a downtown area, and even an adjacent rural village.
The IDF has an urban warfare training center called "Chicago," allegedly because of all the shooting that happens here. And they lend it to the US Marines for training purposes.
Maybe they can put in a North Michigan Avenue section next.