HaKirya contains the Tel Aviv District government center and the major Israel Defense Forces base, Camp Rabin (Hebrew: ? ?, Mahaneh Rabin), named for Yitzhak Rabin. It was one of the first IDF bases and has served as the IDF headquarters since its founding in 1948.
Much of the Kirya today is located on the lands of Sarona, a Templer settlement founded in the 19th Century. Sarona was an agricultural colony, and kept this nature despite the expansion of Tel Aviv and attempts by the city to buy some of Sarona's lands.
In World War II, the British forces took control of Sarona and converted it into a prison camp for Germans. After the war, the German prisoners were deported, mostly to Australia, and Sarona became a British military and police base. The base was the site of the first ever unconcealed Haganah attack on a British installation.
The base was taken over by the Haganah on December 16, 1947, and renamed to Camp Yehoshu'a, after Yehoshu'a Globerman, who was killed near Latrun while returning from a mission to Jerusalem. It was the first independent Jewish military base in modern history. The base was dubbed HaKirya because it contained the government offices in Tel Aviv, the provisional capital of Israel at the time, until Jerusalem was secured and declared the capital. The Haganah and then Israel Defense Forces also used the Templer buildings as their first headquarters, including the headquarters of the Sherut Avir (later Israeli Air Force) and the Kiryati Brigade. The Givati Brigade was also founded at the base.
Over the years, the military base's land area has been decreasing, due to the high land value and sale to private companies. As of 2009 however, Camp Rabin remains the base with the largest number of regular soldiers. Many of the civilian government offices once spread over the entire former Sarona colony are now concentrated outside the mitary base, in the Kirya Tower, which was completed in 2005 in the southern part of the Kirya.
In 2012 news were published about proposals of moving the IDF headquarters or parts thereof to Jerusalem, or to the Negev, the Galilee and the city of Lod, while retaining the more recently built IDF facilities of the HaKirya.
In 2012, the IDF announced that they believe that, in the next war, HaKirya could be targeted by enemy GPS-guided missiles, in particular the M-300 missiles installed in Syria.
The Kirya today consists of a northern section, used for the military base, and the southern one, a business district mostly under construction as of 2008, which includes the Kirya Tower. These sections are separated by Kaplan Street. The military base is home to the Matcal Tower and Marganit Tower, and serves as the headquarters of the IDF's General Staff.
From 1951 to 1998, the former new school of Sarona was home to a large birthing center (HaKirya Maternity Hospital), closed when the newer Lis Maternity Hospital was opened in the adjacent Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. The hospital building, erected by architect Theo Wieland as Sarona's new school in 1930 in Bauhaus style, was torn down in 2002 to give way for the Matcal Tower, however, its cornerstone box of documents was retrieved by Professor Reuven Peyser.
There are plans to evacuate parts of the northern section (military base), including the dining room, in favor of the Tel Aviv Light Rail and private development. Plans also exist to build five new towers inside the base, including new structures for the Military Intelligence Directorate and Navy.
In August 2013, The Tel Aviv Local Committee approved plans for the Keren HaKirya mixed-use complex, composed of 80- and 50-story commercial towers, two 45-story residential towers, on a base consisting of a two-story retail mall, at the intersection of Menachem Begin and Shaul HaMelech Boulevards.