IDF aims to shoot down smartphones over missile defense

Security officials want to restrict cellular device imports over fears some products could disrupt Iron Dome system

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

The IDF is concerned that some phones and tablets could interfere with the Iron Dome system. (photo credit: Flash90)
The IDF is concerned that some phones and tablets could interfere with the Iron Dome system. (photo credit: Flash90)

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has asked for a delay on reforms in smartphone imports regulations over fears that some devices may disrupt the Iron Dome anti-missile system, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Thursday.

The head of the IDF’s communication branch, Major-General Uzi Moskovitz, and the director-general of the Communications Ministry, Eden Bar-Tal, were to meet Thursday to try to hammer out a solution to the problem.

Earlier this week the Knesset Economics Affairs Committee approved the relaxing of restrictions on smartphone imports, a move that would open up the market to a plethora of new devices. Currently, each type of phone requires approval by the Communications Ministry but should the reforms go through, importers will be permitted to market any device that carries an internationally recognized standard. The move is expected to bring a drop in prices for smartphones.

However, in a letter sent on his behalf by the director-general of the Defense Ministry, Major-General Udi Shani, to the chairman of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee MK Carmel Shama-HaCohen (Likud), Gantz asked that the changes be delayed until the security establishment could present its concerns over the matter. Gantz cited the opinion of the head of the IDF’s communication branch that unrestricted imports of devices could have “serious security implications.”

The concerns come from the transmission frequencies used by some smartphones and tablet devices that could interfere with the finely tuned Iron Dome missile batteries as they home in on incoming missiles.

Although an IDF representative raised the issue during the committee meeting at the beginning of the week, security officials refuse to reveal which specific devices or frequencies pose a problem.

During the meeting, Communication Minister Moshe Kahlon dismissed the IDF’s concerns and said that changes in regulations have already been delayed several times in the past over security concerns.

‘We are a state with an army and not an army with a state,” Kahlon said during the meeting.

The Communications Ministry said tourists enter the country all the time with foreign devices that don’t interfere with Iron Dome.

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