Photo Credit: David Buimovitch / Flash 90.
An Iron Dome air-defense battery set near the southern Israeli city of Ashdod fires an intercepting missile during the 2014 mini-war between Israel and Gaza's ruling Hamas terrorist group.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced Tuesday the IDF will deploy a laser missile defense system “within a year,” according to journalist Amichai Stein, who works with Israel’s KAN News public broadcaster.

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Bennett, who made the announcement at Israel’s two-day 15th annual INSS (Institute for National Security Studies) Conference, said the system will first be deployed in an experimental format in southern Israel, and then elsewhere.

“This will allow us, in the medium to long term, to surround Israel with a laser wall that will defend us from missiles, rockets, UAVs and other threats that will essentially take away the strongest card our enemies have against us,” Bennett said.

“The economic equation will be reversed; they will invest a lot and we will invest a little. If it is possible to intercept a missile or rocket with just an electric pulse that costs a few dollars, we will have nullified the ring of fire that Iran has set up on our borders. The whole thing no longer pays off,” Bennett said.

“This new generation of Israeli air defense could also serve our friends in the region who are also exposed to severe threats from Iran and its proxies. This is another way in which we will create assets, use them and give what we have to the world in order to gain support, create alliances and become even stronger.”

Israeli security officials told Israel’s Channel N12 News on Tuesday night, however, that Bennett was “throwing sand in the public eye. . . We will continue to advance the process responsibly [but] it will take several years to become operational,” they said.

Watch a live stream of the INSS Conference: ‘Strategic Assessment for Israel’ here.

Watch videos from the INSS Conference here.

Israel’s Defense Ministry announced two years ago that it had developed such a system to intercept drones, mortar shells, rockets, light aircraft and anti-tank missiles.

But it was in 2018 that the ministry first discussed the project. At that time, Globes reported that Israel was “accelerating and budgeting a plan to develop a new interception system using powerful lasers.” The cost of the project was estimated at several billion shekels.

The development of a laser missile defense system was launched by then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in 2016, who ordered the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure to carry out an assessment of new laser interception technologies.

The head of the Administration, Brig. Gen. (res) Danny Gold, was awarded the Peres Israel Defense Prize for his work in the development of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system that has saved so many lives during Israel’s wars in the past decade. The Iron Dome was developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.