President Reuven Rivlin, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, and Director General of the Ministry of Defense, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amir Eshel, on Monday morning presented the Israel Defense Prize for 2021 to four outstanding projects and programs that have contributed to the security of the State of Israel and to its qualitative edge:
• A project developed by Unit 8200 in the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate, which deals with groundbreaking capabilities for the intelligence community.
• A project developed by the Directorate of Defense R&D, Rafael and IAI, which provides the IDF with innovative solutions and that were developed over the course of a decade. Throughout the process, developers were required to deal with technological gaps and uncertainty, having no precedent to build upon.
• A cyber defense project developed by the IDF’s C4I Corps, the Israel Security Agency (ISA), the Ministry of Defense, National Cyber Division, the Mossad and the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate.
• A technological breakthrough achieved by the Directorate of Defense R&D in the Ministry of Defense, IDF’s Unit 81, the Mossad, the Israeli Air Force, Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries.
Some of the projects that have won the Israel Defense Prize in the past were the Uzi sub-machine gun, Galil rifle, Kfir aircraft, Gabriel missile, Popeye missile, Merkava Mark III tank, and the air-to-air missiles built by RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems, starting with the Shafrir (in the 1960s), to the Python (1990s), missile defense systems including the Arrow, Arrow 3, and Iron Dome, the Trophy anti-tank missile defense system and more.
President Rivlin addressed the recipients of the award, saying, “My dear ones, with all my appreciation for the innovative and sophisticated developments and systems that justify this award, it is the people behind the technology that are the most important – without the people and their values, no innovative technology can protect us. It is your spirits and belief in the righteousness of your missions that make you, my dear ones, the best.”
President Rivlin added, “This is the last time that I will be awarding the Israel Defense Prize. Over the past years it has been a way to recognize, to some extent, the importance of your work, which naturally is always done away from the spotlight, unknown to the public. The people of Israel may not know how much gratitude they owe to the winners of this award, but believe me – they feel it. And on their behalf, on behalf of all of the citizens of Israel, today, I seek not only to praise and salute you, to express my admiration, and deep appreciation for your impressive accomplishments, but also to say thank you. ”
Defense Minister, Benny Gantz said: “When we look at the winning projects this year, we see a great example of the proper way for the different bodies in the defense establishment to cooperate. In addition, this award proves, once again, the strength of our defense industries. More than once in the past year, I have turned to the industries to find solutions for the special missions of the IDF and other security institutions. We saw their benefits during Operation Guardian of the Walls – the precision and unprecedented intelligence employed during an operation that minimized harm to uninvolved civilians when comparing to the extent of the aerial operations. The targeting of terrorists was effective and powerful. [Addressing the recipients of the award] This award is a thank you from all of us, for your contribution to the defense of the State of Israel in various arenas. Your solutions address threats that the public, sleeping soundly at night, is unaware of.”
Minister Gantz added, “These days, the entire Middle East is on the verge of an arms race, particularly if Iran continues to advance towards the nuclear threshold. We are vigilant in the face of all these threats. Our defense systems, most of which were developed in Israel, are deployed and our intelligence works at all times to identify threats and targets. We are fully aware of what is happening in the region, and our policy is unequivocal: we will not tolerate any violation of Israel’s sovereignty – whether through the firing of incendiary balloons or rockets, or any other means pursued by Iran and its affiliates. We will respond forcefully, at the appropriate time, in accordance with our needs. This is what we have done in the past and this is what we will do in the future.”