News Analysis – November 2019

General News Summary

Impasse Continues

Benny Gantz is more than halfway through the 28 days he’d been given to form a government, but no closer than he was when President Reuven Rivlin assigned him the task on October 22. The Blue White party leader’s apparent failure increased the odds that Israel would be forced to hold its third parliamentary election in less than a year.

Israel has had a transition government with limited authority for almost a year now after two elections, in April and in September, produced almost identical results: A parliamentary deadlock between two blocs of parties, a right-religious one led by the Likud of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a center-left grouping behind Gantz and Blue White. In the middle there’s a decisive bloc of votes belonging to the Yisrael Beitenu party of former defense and foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who insists that the two main parties form a secular unity government that excludes their religious and leftist satellite parties.

Gantz has met potential coalition partners, with no visible results. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and his Blue White still insists, in public at least, that its man should head a new government. A newspaper report in early November, however, indicates that there’s been greater movement in behind-the-scenes talks.

According to the report in Globes, Gantz has expressed willingness to accept the principle of President Rivlin’s suggested rotation agreement in which Netanyahu will begin as prime minister but will suspend himself if indicted. The decision about the cases against Netanyahu is likely to be made this month. Gantz would then become acting prime minister until half of the Knesset’s term is over and will then become Israel’s official prime minister.

It takes two sides to make a coalition, and there’s no sign, however, that Netanyahu is willing to accept such a plan. Some sources accuse him of refusing to negotiate because he thinks his side would have a better chance of winning a majority in a third election. There are also suggestions inside Likud that the law be changed to enable direct election of the prime minister, a vote they think Netanyahu would win.

After two unsuccessful attempts, there’s no guarantee that a third round of voting, whatever form it might take, would produce a conclusive result. At a time when it faces growing challenges on the diplomatic, defense and economic fronts, Israel can ill afford another extended period under a transitional government with little authority to make fateful decisions.

End of a Romance?

Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to pull most American troops out of Syria has cast clouds of concern in Israel, radically altering the regional balance of power and eroding the once-unshakable confidence that the U.S. would come to Israel’s aid in a confrontation with Iran. Particularly worrisome is Trump’s treatment of Syrian Kurds, America’s staunchest allies in the battle against the Islamic State.

“Israelis reassured themselves that if faced with an imminent, existential threat, the Americans will be on their side,” says Eyal Cohen of the Brookings Institution. “Decision makers in Jerusalem ought to carefully rethink this paradigm in light of the U.S. abandonment of the Kurds.”

The Syrian pullback, which enhances Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ascent to the role of dominant player on the Syrian arena, isn’t the only thing bothering Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There’s also the subdued U.S. response to Iranian-backed cruise missile attacks on Saudi oil installations, and questions raised by Teheran’s announced intention to renew enrichment of weapon-grade uranium at its Fordo nuclear plant.

Netanyahu is far too seasoned a diplomatic performer to express doubts about his relationship with Trump, who has up to now been vocal in his backing, including the politically significant move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But there are hints of the uncertainty he must feel in some of his recent statements, including a speech at the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem. Commenting on U.S. backing during the Yom Kippur War of 1973, he said: “Today, too, we are very appreciative of the important support of the United States. At the same time, we always remember and apply the basic rule that guides us: Israel will defend itself, with its own forces, in the face of every threat.”

At the same time, Netanyahu acknowledged that the threat from Iran was intensifying. “Iran is arming, strengthening, its audacity is growing. This reality requires us to strengthen and arm,” he said in early November, calling for “many billions” added to the defense budget to provide “defensive and offensive means of a scope, power and quality that we haven’t had before.”

Lebanese Unrest

Israel is maintaining a careful watch over events in Lebanon, where large-scale street protests over economic conditions triggered the resignation of prime minister Sa’ad Hariri. On the one hand, it seems unlikely that Hizballah will have any interest in a military confrontation with Israel any time soon; as a member of the now-outgoing government, the pro-Iranian Shi’a Muslim movement is too preoccupied with the local political situation.

On the other hand, the decision may not rest entirely with Hizballah or its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. For some time, Iran has been waiting to respond to repeated Israeli attacks on Iranian assets and proxies in Syria and Iraq, including numerous attempts to provide its Hizballah surrogate with advanced precision weapons. Israeli sources think that Iranian retaliation is inevitable, whether it comes from Lebanon, or possibly from long-range Iranian missiles deployed in Yemen.

Tension has also increased on the Gaza border. After about a dozen missiles were fired on Israel from the Gaza Strip in early November, some Israeli ministers were calling for an immediate large-scale campaign against Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Biden’s Stand

Former vice president Joe Biden, one of the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination in next year’s U.S. presidential election, has suggested that to condition aid to Israel on stopping settlement expansion would be “a scandalous idea.” Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Biden’s comment puts him at odds with other leading candidates, including Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who have all indicated a willingness to use American aid to force policy changes by Israel. Israel gets $2.8B a year in U.S. military assistance. In late October, Sanders led the charge when he said at the annual conference to J Street, a left-leaning Jewish lobby that supports Israel, that he would tell Israel it must ” fundamentally change its relationship to the people of Gaza” if it wants continued U.S. military support, suggesting that some of the money should go toward humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.

Pipe Deal

Delek Drilling recently completed a deal enabling the piping of natural gas from Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan offshore fields to Egypt. According to a report in Globes, Delek, together with its partners Noble Energy and EGAS, is purchasing rights to use the existing pipeline between Ashkelon and El Arish in Egyptian Sinai. The undersea pipeline, owned by Eastern Mediterranean Gas Company, 26 inches in diameter and 90 kilometers long, has a potential annual capacity of 7 billion cubic meters of gas.

Prosecutor Promoted

Liat Ben Ari, the lead prosecutor in three pending corruption cases involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, recently was promoted to Deputy State’s Attorney. Ben-Ari came under criticism from Netanyahu’s defense team in October, after she did not attend a two-day extension of a hearing preceding a still-unmade decision on whether to file indictments.

The Economy

IMF Trims Forecasts

The International Monetary Fund has cut back on its 2019 and 2020 growth forecasts for Israel, reducing both estimates to 3.1% from the previously predicted 3.3%. The move came against the background of an anticipated slowing in global growth. Earlier the Bank of Israel reduced its forecast growth for 2020 to 3%, down from its previous estimate of 3.5%.

Unemployment Down

Israel’s unemployment rate fell to 3.7% in September, compared to August’s 3.8%, the Central Bureau of Statistics has reported.

Privatization List

Potential privatization of several government companies await approval by a new government, according to a report in Globes. The newspaper’s list includes a Tel Aviv Stock Exchange offering of shares in Israel Aerospace Industries, privatization of Haifa Port, and the sale of the Environmental Services Company, all measures that already have final approval but cannot be completed in the absence of a functioning government.

Reserves Released

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has released budgetary reserves amounting to NIS1.5B (about $400M) to a number of continuing government activities in the areas of transportation, care for Holocaust survivors, social welfare, and loans to recipients of government housing subsidies. The Treasury is also planning continuing budgetary allocations for 2020, which will be necessary for ministerial operations in the event that efforts to form a new government are unsuccessful.

Lots of Millionaires

Israel ranks fifth in the proportion of people with a net worth of $1M or more in a listing of 23 countries complied by Credit Suisse. The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Norway and Portugal finished ahead of Israel, which according to Credit Suisse has 131,000 millionaires.

Abandoning Plastic

Sodastream, the Israeli manufacturer of carbonated soft drink components, plans to replace plastic flavor bottles with metal containers. The company, which was sold to Pepsico in 2018 for $3.2B, produces over 30 million bottles of flavors each year at its plant in Ashkelon, south of Tel Aviv.

Sabbath Buses

The Tel Aviv Municipality has approved a NIS 9M initial allocation for the operation of public transportation on the Jewish Sabbath, which runs from sundown on Friday to sunset on Saturday. The projected transport system, which still needs additional authorizations, will cover Tel Aviv and some of its neighboring municipalities, including Kiryat Ono, Givatayim and Ramat Hasharon.

Facebook Sues

WhatsApp, Facebook‘s messaging service, has filed a lawsuit in a California federal court accusing NSO, the Israeli electronic surveillance company, of breaching WhatsApp computer systems, and “wrongfully trespassing” Facebook’s property. It claims that NSO’s Pegasus software tried to infect roughly 1,400 devices using Android, iOS and Blackberry operating systems with malicious software to steal valuable information from human rights activists, journalists and others using the messaging app.

Finance & Investment

Overseeing Foreign Investments

The cabinet has approved a proposal for the establishment of a committee tasked with overseeing foreign investments in Israel. According to Yediot Aharonot, the panel, under Treasury supervision, will examine possible conflicts between foreign investments and Israeli national interests. The panel’s mandate will not include technology companies.

$2.4B Raised

Israeli high-tech companies raised $2.24B in the third quarter of 2019, the highest quarterly amount since 2013, according to a report by IVC Research CenterZysman, Aharoni, Gayer & Co. Israeli tech companies have now raised $6.14B in the first nine months of 2019, compared to $6.4B in all of 2018 and $5.24B in 2017.

Government Dividends

A massive NIS 690M dividend from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems was responsible for the major share of the record NIS 740M in dividends paid out by companies under the aegis of the Government Corporations Authority in the first nine months of 2019. The figure far exceeds the NIS 108M paid out for the same period last year, and 2017’s NIS172M.

Start-Ups Raise $800M

Israeli start-ups raised over $800M in October, according to a survey in Globes. Israeli tech companies have now raised $6.94B since the start of 2019, exceeding the record $6.4B raised by Israeli tech companies in 2018.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Tosca-Polymer Logistics

Tosca, the U.S.-based reusable packaging and supply chain supplier, has acquired Israel’s Polymer Logistics for an undisclosed sum. Based in Migdal Ha’Emek not far from Haifa, Polymer Logistics manufactures reusable transport packaging and retail merchandizing systems. Seller was Apax Partners, which acquired the company in 2017.

Akamai-ChameleonX

Akamai Technologies, the cloud service technology developer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has acquired ChameleonX for an estimated $20M. Based in Tel Aviv, ChameleonX develops self-protection technology for websites to prevent theft of payment details and identity and credit fraud. Akamai co-founder, 31-year-old Israeli Daniel Lewin was killed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Fortinet-enSilo

Fortinet, the U.S. security solutions firm, has completed the acquisition of enSilo, an Israeli cybersecurity company with offices in Herzliya north of Tel Aviv and San Francisco. Acquisition price was estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.

AngioDynamics-Eximo

AngioDynamics, a medical device company based in Latham, New York, is acquiring Eximo Medical for $46M and up to $20M in milestone payments. Based in Rehovot southeast of Tel Aviv, Eximo Medical has developed pulsed laser beams through a catheter. The company was founded in 2012 by Accelmed in cooperation with the Incentive Accelerator, which is owned by Peregrine Ventures and supported by the Innovation Authority.

Aspire Global-Pariplay

Aspire Global, an Israeli gaming specialist with corporate headquarters in Malta, has acquired Pariplay, operator of a game aggregator platform, for a reported $13M. Shares of Aspire, whose owners include Israeli media entrepreneur Eli Azur (Maariv, the Jerusalem Post), are traded on the First North Scandinavian stock exchange.

Veeva-Crossix

Veeva, a life sciences firm based in Pleasanton, California, has completed a $430M acquisition of Israeli-American Crossix. Based in Kiryat Ono east of Tel Aviv and New York, Crossix has developed a marketing analytics service for the healthcare industry. Its clients include Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Teva.

SKF-Presenso

SKF of Gothenburg, Sweden has signed an agreement to acquire Presenso, which develops and deploys artificial intelligence (AI)-based predictive maintenance software. Purchase price was estimated at $35M. The AI capability of Presenso, which is based in Haifa, allows production plants to identify and act on anomalies that were previously difficult to detect, automatically and without the need to employ data scientists.

Proofpoint-ObserveIT

Proofpoint, an enterprise security company based in Sunnyvale, California, has acquired Israel-U.S. insider threat platform developer ObserveIT for $225M in cash. ObserveIT, which currently has headquarters in Boston, was founded in Israel in 2007 and acquired in 2013 by the Bain Capital venture capital firm. It still maintains its development center in Tel Aviv.

Taboola, Outbrain Merge

Taboola and Outbrain, two Israeli companies with headquarters in New York who are leaders in the viral content distribution business, have agreed to a merger. Both companies were founded in Tel Aviv in the same year, 2006. Taboola, which has claimed revenues of $1B, specializes in publication of links designed to attract Internet users to its clients’ websites, while Outbrain promotes sponsored content through advertising purchased on the websites of leading publishers including the Washington Post and CNN.

Phoenix Sale Gets OK

Capital Market, Insurance and Savings Authority commissioner Moshe Bareket has approved Delek Group‘s sale of The Phoenix Holdings insurance company to two U.S. investment firms, Centerbridge Partners and Gallatin Point Capital. The buyers are paying NIS1.7B for a 32.5% controlling stake in the Phoenix.

Science & High Technology

Intel Expansion to Resume

Multinational chipmaker Intel plans to renew construction of its $11.09B new fabrication facility in Kiryat Gat as early as December, according to a report in Yediot Aharonot. The same paper had reported in June that Intel planned to postpone the start of construction, originally scheduled for this year, to an undisclosed later date.

ICL Expands Meat Substitute Sector

Israel Chemicals (ICL) is expanding production capacity and research support for Rovitaris, its proprietary alternative protein technology aimed at the meat-substitute market. According to ICL, Rovitaris depends on a variety of sources of vegetable protein.

Opioid Agreement

Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has reached agreement with a number of U.S. states and individual plaintiffs for settlement of opioid suits against it. Under terms of the agreement, to which some U.S. bodies have already filed objections, the Israeli company will donate drugs with a wholesale value of $23B as part of the settlement.

Hyundai Moves

Israel’s Taavura Group, controlled by the Livnat family, has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Hyundai Motors in the innovation center that Taavura is about to open. Taavura and Hyundai will cooperate in scouting, evaluating, and investing in technologies based on Israeli innovation.

Hyundai is also teaming with Via, an Israeli smart-transport start-up and Poni.ai of China in a pilot project BotRide for an on-demand self-driving car rides-sharing service in Irvine, California. BotRide will allow Irvine residents to order shared rides; Pony.ai developed the self-driving system and Via is providing ride-sharing technology.

Porsche Investment

Porsche, the German carmaker, is one of the participants in a $9M investment in Haifa-based Tactile Mobility, which has developed technology to analyzes data from car sensors and enables autonomous vehicles to get a feel of the road.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Volkswagen Group said it will begin testing of I.D. Buzz, its autonomous vehicle, in Tel Aviv in 2022. VW is also involved in an Israeli robotaxi venture in collaboration with Israeli automotive chipmaker Mobileye, which was due to launch in Tel Aviv by the end of the year.

Israeli Branch of FDA?

Visiting U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed the opening of an Israeli branch of the United States Food and Drug Administration during a late October visit to Israel, the Israeli press reported. The FDA has very few branches outside the U.S. Establishment of an Israel branch could shorten the time needed for FDA approval of new Israeli-developed drugs and medical technology.

Mnuchin discussed the possible move with Marius Nacht, a former founder of Check Point software who is one of the founders of the eMoon healthcare venture capital fund, representatives of Israel’s Clalit HMO and the Sheba Medical Center.

Aerospace & Defense

Differences over IAI’s IPO

Major differences have emerged between the Defense Ministry and the Government Companies Authority over plans for privatization of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), according to a report in Globes. The ministry, citing a survey by the PwC consulting firm, says the plan for an initial public offering of a minority of shares is low on the list of options available for the IAI sale.

The sale plan is due to come before the cabinet in late November, but Globes quotes Defense Ministry sources as questioning the timing of the move by a transition government.

The Globes report said: “‘You don’t do such things at a time like this. What’s their rush?” one source wondered. ‘The offering isn’t ready, and the alternatives haven’t been examined in all their aspects, but IAI’s management and workers are dreaming of regulatory concessions, the government sees billions of shekels coming, and the workers see the tens of millions that they will get. Everyone is divvying up chickens that have yet to be hatched.'”

Israeli’s Air Force One

IAI has unveiled a converted Boeing 767-300ER jet designed for the transport of the country’s president or prime minister – the Israeli equivalent of the U.S. Air Force One. The aircraft, code-named Wings of Zion, can fly directly either to China or to the U.S. and/or Brazil without refueling and is fitted with sophisticated communications equipment allowing uninterrupted, secure communication anywhere on the globe. According to a report in Haaretz, plans to install a shower on the aircraft were scrapped due to complications in the plumbing system. IAI says that the plane, which successfully completed its first test flight in early November, has the highest possible level of security protection.

IAI Eyes U.S. Deals

IAI has opened a new office in the Washington, D.C. area as part of its effort to increase its U.S. business. According to a Reuters report, the government-owned defense contractor is actively seeking to purchase American companies as part of its expansion effort. IAI said it is also seeking new collaborations, in addition to its existing partnerships with Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell, General Dynamics and Gulfstream.

Rafael’s U.S. Plans

Rafael says it plans to establish a joint venture with U.S. defense contractor Raytheon to manufacture Iron Dome missile defense systems in the United States. The move comes in response to American requirements that most of the $3.8B military aid funds Israel receives each year be spent in the United States. According to the Defense and Aerospace Report website, 75% of Iron Dome components are already being manufactured in the U.S., by 30 subcontractors under the supervision of Raytheon as lead contractor. Iron Dome was developed by Rafael, together with IAI, after the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Since its first deployment in 2011, the system has intercepted and downed hundreds of rockets fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Swiss, Portuguese Contracts

Elbit Systems has been awarded a $250-300M contract to provide a tactical Software Defined Radio solution for the Swiss Army. The solution is based on Elbit’s E-Lynx SDR open architecture family. In addition, Elbit will provide complete electronic warfare suites, including missile warning systems, for the Portuguese Air Force’s new KC-390 multi-mission aircraft. Estimated value of the five-year deal is $50M.

F-15 Structural Components

Boeing has selected Elbit-Cyclone, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, to provide structural elements for F-15 aircraft. Components covered in the contract include pylons, detachable fuel tanks, horizontal stabilizers and adapters. Previously Elbit’s U.S. subsidiary was selected to provide key components for the U.S. Air Force T-X pilot training aircraft, including large-area displays, engine fuel indicators, up-front control panels and displays.

Canadian Sonar Passes Test

Geospectrum Technologies, a Canadian subsidiary of Israel defense contractor Elbit Systems, has completed successful testing of its anti-submarine Towed Reelable Active Passive Sonar System (TRAPS). The tests were completed in September aboard the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Glace Bay. TRAPS is a Low Frequency (LF) variable-depth-sonar intended for detection, tracking and classification of submarines, midget submarines, surface vessels and torpedoes.

Drone Defense

D-Fend Solutions, a developer of anti-drone systems based in Ra’anana, in the high-tech belt northeast of Tel Aviv, has raised $28M from new investors. D-Fend’s autonomous counter-drone system automatically detects, locates and identifies rogue drones, and is capable of taking control and landing them in a pre-defined zone. The company lists the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), which accelerates the adoption of commercial technology into the U.S. military, as a customer.

First Female Squadron Commander

Lt.-Col. “G” (her full name is not disclosed, for security reasons) took over in September as the IAF’s first female squadron commander. The 35-year-old officer and pilot heads the Nachshon Squadron of transport aircraft.

At about the same time another woman, Lt.-Col. Anat Hershkovitz, became the first communications battalion commander to serve in a regular army division.

Azeri Demo

The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan recently released a video showing the operation of SkyStriker, the recently operational loitering unmanned aerial vehicle purchased from Israel’s Elbit Systems. The video shows SkyStriker fired from a towed launcher striking a target in a military exercise. SkyStriker carries a 5 kg warhead installed inside the fuselage and minimal acoustic signature. The Azeri State Border Service was the first foreign purchaser of the UAV.

Asian Contract

Elbit Systems has been awarded a $153M contract to provide comprehensive multi-level unmanned aircraft systems to an unnamed country in Southeast Asia. The contract covers over 1,000 THOR Multi-Rotor Vertical Takeoff and Landing mini-UAV, scores of Skylark LEX, Skylark 3 and Hermes 450 tactical UAVs and Universal Ground Control Stations.

India Buys Spikes

India has acquired 210 Spike anti-armor missiles and 12 launchers in an “emergency” stop-gap purchase from Israel’s Rafael, according to a report in the Times of India. The decision not to wait for final development of an Indian-made missile, which has caused cancellation of a projected $500M purchase of the Israeli weapon, was made in the wake of heightened tension along India’s frontier with Pakistan. Indian officials said the order was likely to be repeated if anti-tank missiles being developed domestically were not available on time.

Trophy/Windbreaker U.S. Deliveries

Rafael and its U.S. partner Leonardo DRS delivered the first installment of an order of Trophy Active Protection systems to the U.S. Army in October. The Rafael-developed Trophy, called Windbreaker in the IDF, will provide protection to American Abrams main battle tanks against a variety of threats. In all, four brigades of U.S. Army and Marine Corps M1 tanks will be outfitted with the system. Developed as a result of lessons learned in the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Trophy has been in IDF service since 2011 on Merkava Mk3 and Mk4 tanks and Namer APCs.

Unmanned Sub Hunter

Elbit Systems reportedly is seeking foreign customers for its Seagull, a small-sized unmanned naval vehicle designed to detect and neutralize floating mines and for anti-submarine warfare. Elbit claims that Seagull is the first vessel designed from the start to be autonomous, rather than as a redesign of a conventional military craft.

Spokesman Takes Over

Brig.-Gen. Hidai Silberman took over as the new Israel Defense Forces spokesman in late September. Silberman replaces former spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, who is leaving military service.

IAI’s GE Deal

Government-owned IAI will convert 15 wide-body, two-engine Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from passenger to cargo configuration for GECAS, General Electric Capital Aviation Services. The deal is one of the first major contracts for IAI’s new Aviation Group, founded in January and combining military and civilian aircraft. IAI is one of a few firms in the world specializing in passenger-to-cargo conversion, whose customers include Amazon, DHL and UPS.

First TaxiBot Use

Air India in October became the first airline to use the TaxiBot to tow a commercial aircraft with passengers aboard from its parking spot to the runway – at Delhi’s main airport. Developed by IAI, TaxiBot is a semi-robotic vehicle which connects to the aircraft and is controlled by the pilot to taxi the airplane from the airport’s jet bridge to the runway with no use of the aircraft main engines. According to IAI, TaxiBot saves 85% of the fuel consumed during standard taxi and reduces 85% of the greenhouse gases emitted by the aircraft’s main engines.

Spacecom Head Resigns

David Pollak is stepping down after 27 years as head of Israel’s Space Communications Ltd. The public company, known as Spacecom, was spun off of government-owned Israel Aerospace Industries in 1993 to market Amos-1, the first Israeli communications satellite. It has been in financial difficulty as a result of the 2016 launch pad explosion of its Amos-6 satellite, which cost it lucrative contracts with Facebook and a Chinese company.

Litening Order

The U.S. Army has placed an order for NIS 200M in Litening electro-optical precision pod systems from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, in partnership with Northrop Grumman of the U.S. The system, installed on the wing of fighter jets, enables navigation and attack maneuvers night and day, in any weather.

Rafael said it also received continuation orders for electronic warfare systems from an unnamed Asian country.

Dock Project

The Defense Ministry is purchasing a wide floating dock from the Israel Shipyards for the maintenance of Israel Navy submarines and Sa’ar 6 missile boats. Cost of the project is NIS 89M, according to a report on the Hebrew-language JDN website. The dock will allow vessels to be lifted above the sea’s surface for the repair of Israeli combat systems and routine maintenance. JDN quoted a Defense Ministry official who said the new dock would strengthen Israeli industry, noting that the ministry had up to now spent more than half a billion shekels on maritime defense of territorial waters.