News Analysis – November 2014

General News Summary

With Friends Like These….

An unnamed White House’s high source commented to a prominent journalist and the acrimonious exchange that inevitably followed, in late October, on the encouraging side U.S. agreement to provide Israel with additional F-35 aircraft.

In an article by Jeffrey Goldberg published in the Atlantic magazine, the anonymous White House source called Israeli Prime Minister “a chickenshit” and that he “has no guts.” According to the sources, the Israeli leader was “afraid to launch wars,” which was “a good thing.”  The “bad thing” is that Netanyahu isn’t trying to make peace with the Palestinians, and that his sole concern is holding on to office, the source continued.

Despite the expected denial from a White House spokesperson, who said the comments do not express the Obama administration’s view, and a phone call from Kerry, the damage had been done.  Netanyahu, in a speech to the Knesset hours after the comments were published, said that he was “under attack for defending Israel,” insisting that Israel’s relationship with its U.S. ally remained stable and strong. “Our supreme interests, chiefly the security and unity of Jerusalem, are not the main concern of those anonymous officials who attack us and me personally, as the assault on me comes only because I defend the State of Israel,” he said.

Shortly before the Goldberg article was published, reports surfaced indicating the Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon had been snubbed during a recent Washington visit.  The Israeli minister was not given meetings with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, ostensibly due to scheduling difficulties, and met solely with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.  In the past, Ya’alon has been sharply critical of Kerry, calling the U.S. diplomat “obsessive and messianic.”

The war of words – which has been described by some commentators as the lowest point in decades in the ties between the two countries – crisis or not, what effect is the obvious ill-feeling likely to have on Washington’s behavior vis-a-vis Israel over the last two years of the Obama administration? Barak Ravid, diplomatic correspondent of the respected, left-leaning Haaretz Hebrew daily, thinks that close security and intelligence cooperation, is likely to continue.  But, Ravid says, American diplomatic defense of Israel “will not be immediate and obvious.”  The Americans will not openly contest the diplomatic offensive Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is launching at the U.N. — but they may continue to use their Security Council veto in defense of Israel.  Nor are the Americans likely to openly contest European moves involving sanctions against Israel’s West Bank settlements.

Elections in the Air

There’s a growing feeling that Prime Minister Netanyahu is planning for early elections in the hope that he’ll be able to assemble a coalition more to his liking than the current one.  Rumors are rife that the prime minister will call for new primaries to confirm his leadership of his Likud party before the end of the year and for early elections in the spring.

At the same time the center-left bloc, which includes not only the opposition Labor party but coalition members Yesh Atid headed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah, are looking for ways to unify enough to block Netanyahu’s apparent plan to build his next coalition with the rightist Habayit Hayehudi headed by Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, a current coalition partner, and ultra-Orthodox parties which were excluded from the incumbent coalition.

There have been various reports of meetings between Netanyahu or his aides with ultra-Orthodox Shas and Degel Hatorah, and a noticeable improvement in the prime minister’s relations with Bennett, a former close associate and sometimes bitter rival for right-of-center support.

Netanyahu may have been attracted to the idea of early elections by the departure of Likud Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who in early November left the Knesset and politics (for the moment, at least) and the re-emergence of popular former Likud Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, who recently said that he was returning to active politics after a self-imposed break from the Likud party and the Knesset.  Sa’ar and Kahlon, both young and attractive right-of-center personalities, could pose a serious threat to Netanyahu’s hegemony – if they decide to do so.

The prime minister must also feel threatened by the growing strength in opinion polls of Bennett and his Habayit Hayehudi party whose top man, Bennett, does nothing to hide his aspirations for the highest rank of national leadership.

In the wake of Netanyahu’s anticipated moves, the parties of the center-left are looking towards possible elections.  There’s been talk that Labor leader Yitzhak Herzog and Livni, the head of Hatnuah, have flirted with the idea of running together on a joint ticket, particularly since both of their parties draw on the same electorate for much of their support.

Jerusalem Violence

It’s probably too early to say whether the upsurge in Palestinian violence centered on Jerusalem in late October and early November signals the start of a third intifada.  The unrest includes multiple attacks in which Jerusalem Palestinians drove their cars directly at Israeli pedestrians at or near stations of the Jerusalem light rail system. Within the spread of about a week, a 3-year-old Jewish girl and a Border Police officer were killed in the vehicular attacks, there was a shooting attempt on the life of a right-wing activist, and there was a major clash of rioting Palestinians with police on the Temple Mount.  There was also an increase in West Bank attacks – a hit-and-run car attack south of Jerusalem in which three soldiers were injured and numerous cases of gasoline bomb and stone-throwing, and attempted knifings of military personnel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put responsibility for the attacks on the Palestinian Authority, whose President Mahmoud Abbas offered condolences to the family of one of the Jerusalem car attackers (both of whom were killed in the course of their assaults).   Though the violence has been initiated by Palestinians, Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Israel to Amman for consultations in protest to what it called Israeli “violations” on the Temple Mount.

The wave of Palestinian violence was triggered by the kidnapping and brutal murder of 16-year-old East Jerusalem youth Muhammad Abdul Khdeir in early July, whose alleged Jewish perpetrators have been arrested.  The Abu Khdeir killing was an act of revenge for the killing of three Israeli youths who were kidnapped and murdered a few days earlier near Hebron in the West Bank.

Rabin Memorial

Thousands of Israelis gathered on a rainy autumn Saturday night on Nov. 1, in the Tel Aviv square where Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated to mark the 19th anniversary of his death.  Speaking at the rally, former president Shimon Peres, who won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize together with Rabin and Yasser Arafat, stressed that peace with the Palestinians was essential for Israel’s future: “Israel will not have lasting security without peace. Israel will not have a stable economy without peace. Israel will not have a healthy society without peace. Israel will not preserve her Jewish and democratic character without peace.”  A second large public gathering is scheduled for Nov 8, with the current president Rivlin as the lead speaker.

Gas to Jordan

Jordan was on the verge of closing a 15-year deal to purchase natural gas from Israel’s offshore Leviathan field, according to a late-October Reuters news agency report.  The report quoted the Hashemite Kingdom’s Energy Minister Mohammed Hamed as saying the deal would be finalized sometime in November.  The gas would begin arriving in Jordan in 2017 over a still-to-be constructed pipeline crossing Israel and the border between the two countries.  The gas would likely be used to generate electric power, Jordanian demand for which is growing by 7% a year.

Rio Security

Israel’s ISDS has been chosen to manage security for the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympic Games. ISDS will be able to draw on a $2.2B budget for constructing and managing the complex security system for the world’s biggest sporting event.  The Israeli firm will integrate the security system at the various Olympic sites.

Good Advice

Israelis intending to do business with India should go there to learn how business operates  – that things don’t happen as rapidly as they do in China because India is a democracy, says Subramanamian Ramadorai, vice chairman of India IT giant Tata Consultancy Services.  Ramadorai, one of the most prominent businessmen on the subcontinent, spoke to Haaretz when he was in Israel for a Tel Aviv University conference in September.

Barak Speaks Out

Former prime and defense minister Ehud Barak denied rumors that he has Alzheimer’s disease in a wide-ranging October 24 interview with Israel’s Channel 1.  “There could be people who’d be happy if I forgot all sorts of things,” he laughingly told interviewer Ayala Hasson. “At first I thought it would die naturally – the story, not the patient.  Then I was swamped by empathy, which made me feel very good.”

Barak said he had not commented in recent months, particularly during Operation Protective Edge, because he felt it was not proper to address Israel’s leadership in the media.

The Economy

Airport Plan

The Transport and Defense ministries are considering a plan to turn the IDF’s storied Ramat David airbase into Israel’s second major civilian airport.  The base, in the Lower Galilee’s Jezreel Valley, would revert to military use in an emergency situation.

The search for a suitable location for a second major airport intensified over the summer, when several foreign air carriers briefly suspended flights to Ben-Gurion International Airport after a Hamas rocket fired from Gaza landed not far from the facility during Operation Protective Edge. The new airport, capable of handling up to 6 million passengers a year, would be linked to a new rail line running to Beit She’an near the Jordan River.

Campaign’s Economic Effect

The effect on the economy of this summer’s Operation Protective Edge is felt in a series of economic figures summarized by The Marker, the economic section of Haaretz: a 38% decline in hotel bed-nights in August to 482,000, the lowest since 2002 for what is usually a peak tourism month; a 16% decline in high-tech exports; a 35% drop in new home sales; and a 5% decline in credit card purchases.

Tamir Sapir Dies

Tamir Sapir, a former Soviet immigrant to Israel who moved to the United States and became a real estate billionaire, died in September at the age of 67. Born Temur Sepiashvilli, of Georgian origin, he moved to Israel with his parents in 1973 (where the family name was changed) and later emigrated to the U.S., where he first worked as a New York cabbie.  He eventually entered the electronics business, invested the profits from that business in Manhattan real estate, and eventually established the Sapir Organization property firm.   Some years ago Forbes estimated his net worth at $1.4B.

Finance and Investment

Intel Grant

Chipmaker Intel is receiving a 5-year, $300M package of Israeli government benefits for its planned $6B upgrade of its manufacturing facilities in the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Gat.  The deal also includes Intel’s hiring of 1,000 workers and indirect employment of another 2,500, $550M in reciprocal procurement, and payment of only 5 percent in corporate taxes through 2023.

The state has laid out specific benchmark criteria to track the company’s compliance over time, a first for such a grant. They include commitments to maintain certain employment levels, employing a certain number of people from the South, investing in academic institutions, and seeking Israeli contractors.

Israel was chosen over Ireland in the fierce competition for production of Intel’s newest 10-nanometer chips. Currently 22-nm chips are made in Kiryat Gat, but Intel built its last plant, for 14-nm chips, in Ireland.

New Venture Fund

Israel’s Carmel Ventures has closed its new Carmel Ventures IV fund with total commitments of $194M.  Among new investors are the Baidu search firm, financial services company Ping-An and anti-virus and Internet services provider Qihoo360. Carmel Ventures IV will concentrate on early-stage companies in high-growth sectors like enterprise software, data center infrastructure, cyber security, fin tech and digital media.

Cyberark IPO

CyberArk, a security company based in Petah Tikva east of Tel Aviv, raised $86M (for 15% of its shares) in a Nasdaq initial public offering in mid-September, then skyrocketed 86% in its first three days of trading. Cyberark, which develops software to protect against advanced cyber attacks, had initially planned to raise $75M at a total company valuation of $470M.

Strong Quarter

170 Israeli high-tech companies raised $701M in the third quarter of 2014, 6 percent above the $661M of Q3/2013 but down 24 percent from the exceptionally high $928M raised in the previous quarter. The third quarter amount was 29% above the $545M average of the last three years.

In the first three quarters of 2014, 504 Israeli high-tech companies raised $2.3B, just 1 percent short of the $2.33B raised in all of 2013.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Adama’s Chinese Purchases

Israel-based Adama, formerly Makteshim Agan, has signed a deal to purchase four Chinese companies.  Israel’s Discount Investment owns 40% of Adama, one of the world’s largest producers of generic crop-protection chemicals, and 60% is own by China National Chemical Corp. Adama said it will buy 100 percent each of Jiangsu Anpon, Jiangsu Maidao, Jiangsu Huaihe and Jingzhou Sanonda Holdings from ChemChina for $324M in cash and assume debt of another $300M.

Sony-Dori Partnership

Sony Pictures Television Networks and Israel’s Dori Media Group are establishing a new subsidiary.  The plan involves Sony’s acquisition of a major part of Dori’s business at an undisclosed price.  The new subsidiary, Dori TLV, will own several cable channels in Israel, a VOD service, Indonesia’s Baby TV channel and Dori Media Ot, ac provider of dubbing and subtitling services.  Dori and Sony are already partners in another subsidiary, as well as an Indonesian TV station.

Pulse Secure-Mobile Spaces

Israeli company MobileSpaces has been acquired by California-based Pulse Secure for an estimated $100M.  MobileSpaces, based in Tel Aviv and Silver Spring, Maryland, is developing a solution to help organizations deal with employees who bring a laptop computer, smartphone or tablet from home, a category referred to as BYOD (bring your own device). The solution separates personal and organizational information, to guard sensitive data kept on the employees’ smartphones and tablets. Founders of the Israeli company are CEO David Goldschlag, formerly a vice-president at the McAfee cyber-security firm, and CTO Yoav Weiss, one of the first employees of Check Point Technologies, the Israeli world leader in firewall-based enterprise security.

Microsoft Buying Equivio

Microsoft has signed a letter of intent to purchase Equivio, a text-analysis software maker based in Rosh Ha’ayin northeast of Tel Aviv, for a reported $200M.  The Wall Street Journal, which published the report, said that both companies declined to comment on it.

Equivio’s algorithms generalize samples of texts marked as relevant to the issue at hand to apply the sorting logic to groups of texts, such as legal documentation. The technology is already in use by organizations providing litigation support services to law firms and corporate legal departments trying to extract relevant data, such as legal contracts, from large numbers of documents.

Matomy Media-Mobfox

Israeli digital advertising specialist Matomy Media is acquiring MobFox of Austria for $17.6M in cash and shares.  The Israeli company anticipates that MobFox’s mobile programmatic advertising will increase its revenues, which is expected to reach $15-$17M this year, by as much as 50%.  In October, French ad company Publicis Groupe became Matomy’s largest single shareholder by acquiring 20% of the Israeli company.

Water Business Sold

Kurita Water Industries of Japan is purchasing the water-treatment business of Israel Chemicals for €250M.  The business being sold operates in Germany, other European countries and China, and includes chemical additives for the paper industry.

Science and High Technology

Solar Shines

The cabinet has approved an increase in quotas for power generation by photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, making it possible to divert quotas amounting to 300 megawatts initially allocated for environmentally friendly power production using other means (wind and treated waste). The current interim targets for renewable energy production, set by the government in 2009, are for 5% of energy in 2014 and 10% in 2020.  Renewal energy, almost all of it from PV generation, currently amounts to 1% of total annual consumption.

Math Move

Ten major Israeli companies and international high-tech companies that operate in Israel announced a plan to increase the number of pupils who take the highest level of bagrut school matriculation examinations in math. The move is designed to counter the recent decline in the number of math and engineering university graduates. Partners in the project are: Intel, Sandisk, Marvell Israel, Microsoft, IBM, Qualcomm, Red Hat, Amdocs, eBay and Philips.

Personal DNA Team

MyHeritage, a startup headquartered in the small village of Bnei Atarot southeast of Tel Aviv, has announced a collaboration with personal DNA service company 23andMe. The collaboration will allow for users to take personal DNA tests, and to use them to discover and learn about family ties and histories. The first stage of the integration is expected to be completed in early 2015.

MyHeritage developed an online platform for building family trees and ancestry research. The company has more than 5.5 billion historical documents, which make it possible to find links between users around the world. Its website has more than 27 million family trees, 1.6 billion profiles, and more than 75 million registered users around the world

23andMe was founded by Anne Wojcicki (who was married to Google founder Sergey Brin), Linda Avey, and Paul Cusenza. The company raised more than $100M to date, from Brin, Google Ventures, Yuri Milner, Johnson & Johnson and others.

Speedy Recharge

StoreDot, based in Ramat Gan just outside Tel Aviv, has raised $42M to finance development of biorganic-based technology capable of recharging cellphone batteries in 30 seconds.  Investors in the company include Samsung, the Korean consumer electronics giant, and veteran Israeli tech-industrialist Stef Wertheimer, the founder of the Iscar machine blades company sold to Warren Buffett.

StoreDot’s nanodots, chemically synthesized bio-organic peptide molecules that, thanks to their small size, improve electrode capacitance and electrolyte performance so that batteries that can be fully charged in seconds rather than hours.  Its technology differs from other nanodot-based systems based on heavy metal based, making them toxic; StoreDot says its nanodots are made from a vast range of environmentally friendly bio-organic raw materials.

Spuntech Expansion

Spuntech, based in Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, has signed a $65M contract that will expand its production of spunlace nonwoven fabrics for hygiene, personal care, medical, automotive and industrial applications, from cotton, viscose, wood pulp to a significant customer by 50%.

Arsenal FC Contract

RR Media, a provider of digital media services to the broadcasting industry, has signed a three-year contract to distribute international programming for Arsenal, one of the top football clubs in the English Premier League. RR Media, based in Airport City opposite Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport, will distribute two magazine shows plus the matches Arsenal plays during that week, via major teleports located in Israel and the U.S.  Already in RR’s portfolio are the NFL Super Bowl, Fox Sports and the PGA golf championships.

In addition, RR has developed Video Dubber, a 30-language mechanized dubbing service that will enable TV channels to expand their broadcasting markets.

Parkinson’s Pill Trial

Phase III trials for Intec Pharma’s Accordion Pill Levodopa for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease are due to start next year, after the Israeli company received U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the tests.  Jerusalem-based Intec, a drug development company, says its Accordion Pill proprietary technology improves the absorption and retention of drugs.

Anti-Cancer Protein

Israeli bioinformatics firm Compugen says experiments with CGEN-15027, its new protein discovery, could serve as the basis for cancer treatments.  In preliminary tests, the protein has inhibited CD8 cytotoxic T-cells, immune cells that recognize and destroy some cancers.

Aerospace and Defense

More F-35, but No Ospreys?

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon reportedly has decided to cancel a deal to purchase  six vertical-takeoff and landing V-22 Osprey aircraft, according to a report in Israel Today.  The paper said that Ya’alon’s decision contradicted that of the IDF, and might create additional friction with the United States.

The reported cancellation came shortly after announcement of an agreement between Israel and the U.S. for the purchase of an additional F-35 fighters wing, doubling the Israel’s projected total number of the state-of-the-art aircraft.  The new F-35, delivery of which is not expected to be completed till near the end of the decade, would be deployed in two new Israel Air Force Squadrons.  Israel already has purchased 19 F-35s, the first of which are due to be delivered in 2016, for $2.75B. The second purchase still needs approval of a ministerial committee on defense purchase.

Israel had agreed to purchase six V-22s, but had not yet signed the contract. The purchase would have made Israel the first country outside the U.S. to obtain the advanced aircraft. Israel was given the green light to purchase the planes in April 2013 during U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s first visit to Israel, as part of a weapons package that also included refueling jets and radar systems. According to Israel today, Ya’alon (who initially supported the Osprey deal) apparently stems the budgetary implications of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.  Ya’alon recently decided to purchase a larger quantity of the Namer heavy armored personnel carriers and expand the IDF’s precision munition arsenal.

Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) has inaugurated its new production line for F-35 stealth fighter wings at the government-owned defense contractors Lahav division.    The line is scheduled to turn out more than four pairs of wings per month and 800 pairs of wings for the F-35 over the next decade, for shipment to Lockheed Martin’s final assembly plant in Fort Worth, Texas. The first wings are scheduled for delivery by mid-2015. IAI says the deal has a potential value of $2.5B over 10-15 years.

India Missile Deals

India is acquiring Israeli-made missiles in two separate September-October deals for 8,000 Spike guided anti-tank missiles and the consummation the long-delayed purchase of Barak sea-to-air missiles.

The Spike, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, was chosen over U.S. contractor Lockheed-Martin’s Javelin.  The deal, worth $525M, is for 8,000 infantry-deployable “fire-and-forget” missiles that can lock on target before firing, and 300 launchers.

In addition, India will take delivery of 262 Barak sea-to-air missiles late next year, following approval of the long-delayed weapons deal between the two countries.

Delivery of Israel Aerospace Industries’ Barak missiles is due to start in December 2015.  The $144M Barak missile deal was at the center of a 2006 scandal after opposition parties demanded an investigation of the Barak deal following allegations of that Indian politicians had been bribed.  The case was subsequently dropped.

According to the Times of India, the Barak purchase was approved by India’s security cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in New York during the September U.N. General Assembly session. Netanyahu reportedly also suggested Israeli-Indian cooperation in cyber defense.

Gas Field Protection

The Defense Ministry is cancelling its international tender for bids on missile corvettes to protect Israel’s offshore gas fields, following a newly agreed deal with the German Government

200 More Namers

Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon has approved IDF procurement of an additional 250 Namer advanced armored personnel carriers.  The decision, which will increase the number of Namers in IDF service to 500, comes in the wake of the death of seven IDF soldiers when an RPG hit their outdated M113 APC during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

According to a report in Yediot Aharonot, most IDF ground units don’t have the advanced Israeli-designed Namer.  Many of the army’s brigades made up of conscripts are transported in heavily armored Ahzarit APCs, based on the modified platform of Soviet-made T-54 and T-55 tanks; reserve battalions still have M113s.

Namer acquisitions have fallen short of original plans for 800 vehicles in recent years, largely due to budget constraints.

Defense Burden

Israel’s defense burden – the percentage of gross domestic product devoted to security spending – fell to its lowest ever in 2012, according to a Haaretz analysis of Central Bureau of Statistics figures.  The CBS estimated that defense spending took up just 5.6% of GDP in 2012, marking a decade-long decline. In 2002, in the midst of the second intifada, defense spending accounted for 9.2% of GDP, but by 2008 it was down to 6.5% and continued to fall in subsequent years.

On the other hand, the report indicated that increases in defense spending in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge were likely to push the burden up to 6.5% of GDP.

Ukraine UAV Interest

After visiting Israel in mid-October, Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimki said his country was interested in purchasing Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles.  He said UAVs were important for supervising the Ukraine cease-fire, adding that Kiev had also been looking at drones from other countries as well.

Elbit Contracts

Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest private defense contractor, has won contracts worth $85M from an unnamed Asian country.  Most of the deal involves upgrading the avionics of F-5 aircraft.  In the past, Elbit upgrades of other F-5 systems have included mission computers, advanced glass cockpits featuring 3-color displays and operational capabilities, the DASH IV Helmet, Weapon Delivery and Navigation Systems, Electronic Warfare suites, radars, flight simulators, spares and ground support equipment.

Halevi Promoted

Incoming chief of Military Intelligence Brig.-Gen. Hertzi Halevi has been promoted to major-general.  Halevi will replace the current intelligence head, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, appointed the IDF’s Northern Command.  Both appointments had been approved in April.

Maritime Radar

IAI unveiled two new maritime radar systems at the late-October Euronaval International Naval Defense and Maritime exhibition in Paris – one suitable for various conventional-sized aircraft, the second a compact unit that can be installed in light aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles.

IAI also showed the Katana, an unmanned surface vessel (USV) that can be deployed in various tasks including early warning, harbor security, patrol of shallow coastal and territorial waters, surface and electronic warfare and offshore platform protection (plus oil rigs, pipelines and more).

Threat Assessment

The threat to Israeli citizens from Lebanon is much greater than that from Gaza, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said in a press interview marking the Jewish New Year.  He said that Israel’s strategic situation at the start of the year was better than it had been at the start of the just-past year.

Enhancing Accuracy

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the developer of the Iron Dome anti-missile system, has used similar technology in a new system designed to enhance the accuracy of artillery.  Called Iron Flame and introduced at a military exhibition earlier this year, the system reportedly can be fitted with various kind of modular warheads, and has precision guidance and in-flight update capability.

Accuracy is a major problem with artillery fires, a Rafael official notes.  “If you want to hit one building, you may hit another,” he says, adding that much of the 70,000 rounds fired during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the 150,000 fired in the Second Lebanon War failed to hit their targets.

Orbit’s Contracts

Orbit Satellite Communications, developer of satellite communications systems, has won contracts valued at more than NIS 11M.  One of the contracts, for NIS 8M, is for command and control systems for an unnamed defense body, apparently one of the larger Asian defense ministries.  Part of the contract is for Orbit’s AirLNK, based on satellite communications and a ground station.  The other is for digital upgrade of an analog ground station in Alaska.

IDF’s Start-Up

An explosive frame that can be attached to a door suspected of being booby-trapped is one of the devices developed by Yiftah, a little-known Israel Defense Forces unit, which was used during the summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. The unit, part of the Ground Forces Command’s technology branch, has existed since 1957 and has about 100 members.  Some of the devices have been in the planning stage for months, others are devised on the spot, occasionally in as little as 12 hours after a specific request.

Other Yiftah developments used in Gaza include a chain of small explosive devices fired into a booby-trapped alleyway or other area.  Detonation of the charges set off larger hostile devices deployed in the suspected area.

There’s also a portable system of security cameras to monitor the perimeter of  buildings that have been taken over.

Privatization Move

Privatization of government-owned Israel Military Industries moved a small step closer when Uri Yogev, head of the Government Companies Authority, informed IMI directors that he had begun looking for local and international potential purchasers and investors.  Among those contacted by Yogev, according to a report in Israel Today, were international banks Morgan Stanley, J. P. Morgan, Barclays, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, UBS and Merrill Lynch.

Under the terms of a privatization plan adopted last year, 600 employees have retired from IMI, with another 600 due to leave the company this year and in 2015.

Apache Contract

A wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary of Israeli private defense contractor Elbit Systems has won a $12.7M contract to supply Apache Integrated Helmets to the U.S. Army. Production of the helmets will take place over two years at the subsidiary’s plant in Fort Worth, Texas.

Arms Sales Decline, Africa Up

Israel arms sales totaled $6.5B in 2013, down about $1B from 2012.  Nevertheless, the overall figure represented continuation of a substantial increase in the past decade, since $3.5B sales in 2005.

Sales to African countries continued to rise, to $223M in 2013, compared to $107M in 2012 and $127M in 2011. In 2009 sales were only $71M.

Last year’s decline can be attributed to a worldwide decline in arms purchases and the reduced defense budgets.

Hadad Picked

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has named Col. Sasson Haddad, 48,  head of the Defense Ministry’s Budget Department and financial adviser to Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and ministry director-general Dan Harel.

Dismissals Halted

At the last minute, Defense Minister Ya’alon has suspended the dismissal of security coordinators in villages around the Gaza Strip pending a reconsideration of the decision to do so. The dismissals, due to take place in January, had been planned and approved months before the outbreak of violence that resulted in Operation Protective Edge.

Canadian Contract

Elbit Systems has won a contract from Rheinmetall Canada Inc. to provide ELSAT 2100 Satellite-on-the-Move (SOTM) systems for use by the Canadian armed forces. ELSAT 2100 SOTM enables cost-effective high data-rate broadband capabilities on a variety of platforms with a unique low profile and small footprint.  Value of the contract, with deliveries in 18 months, was not disclosed.

Back to top