Shhh: Three defense projects win security prize (but two are still top secret)

Israel’s Ofek satellite, as well as projects led by the IDF and other security agencies, were awarded the prestigious Israel security prize Tuesday afternoon.

President Isaac Herzog presented the awards in a ceremony at his residence, with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, as well as representatives from the Shin Bet security service, Mossad and Defense Ministry, in attendance.

The Ofek-16 satellite, developed and managed jointly by the Defense Ministry, IDF intelligence forces, Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems, was one of three projects received the award. The reconnaissance satellite, launched in July 2020, was transferred to IDF control in October that year. It was manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and features Elbit Systems cameras, providing “quality and reliable intelligence” around the clock, according to the Defense Ministry.

The details of the other two winning projects are largely classified.

The first, a joint venture involving the IDF’s 8200 intelligence unit, in addition to the Shin Bet, Mossad and Defense Ministry, “aims to develop powerful, groundbreaking capabilities, in diverse and unique aspects,” according to the Defense Ministry’s official statement.

The decade-long project constitutes “the main cornerstone for a wide range of activities, which have contributed directly and many times to the security of the State of Israel,” it said.

Defense officials at the awards ceremony on June 14, 2022, at the residence of President Herzog. (Defense Ministry)

The second classified project is headed by Mossad, Defense Ministry and the defense industry. Its “purpose is to maintain the qualitative advantage of the State of Israel in the face of strategic threats.”

“Even these days, our enemies do not give up, and threaten our security in our country and abroad. We face many security challenges, some known, and many unknown to the public,” Herzog said in official remarks. “The State of Israel, security services… will continue to stand firm in the face of every enemy.”

Defense Minister Gantz announced the winners at the end of May, with the Israel Aerospace Industries company winning for the 30th time.

Gantz credited international cooperation, including recent peace agreements, with Israel’s continued security. “The partnership and deep connection with our American partners and allies, as well as the relations we have been building and upgrading in recent years with the countries of the region, are also an essential component of Israel’s superiority in the region,” he said.

US President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he will be visiting Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia in mid-July, after the original June date was postponed. Biden plans to discuss security collaborations as part of his visit.

Illustrative: Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi during an event for outstanding soldiers as part of Israel’s 74th Independence Day celebrations, at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on May 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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