Netanyahu: Israel developing missiles ‘no other country has’
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Netanyahu: Israel developing missiles ‘no other country has’

PM says state-owned defense contractor working on weapons systems able to ‘reach anywhere in the area,’ hails IAI contributions to first Israeli lunar mission

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, during a tour of an IAI facility on December 17, 2018. (Koby Gideon/GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, during a tour of an IAI facility on December 17, 2018. (Koby Gideon/GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said that Israel is developing missiles with “special capabilities that no other country has,” during a visit to state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries.

“They are developing offensive missiles here that can reach anywhere in the area and any target,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement from his office. “This is the offensive power of the State of Israel, which is very important for us in all sectors.”

“They are developing weapons systems here with special capabilities that no other country has,” he said after he toured an IAI facility and was updated on the defense contractor’s latest projects.

Netanyahu, who recently appointed himself defense minister, did not elaborate on his comments, which came a day after he said Israel infiltrates Iran periodically for intelligence-gathering purposes.

“IAI knows how to get anywhere it decides and anywhere we need for the good of the country,” he said. “The sky is not the limit.”

Netanyahu also praised the IAI for its involvement in space exploration, saying it was a “huge sphere” that Israel was entering.

Yariv Bash, right, Yonatan Winetraub, middle, and Kfir Damari, the founders of SpaceIL, inserting a time capsule into the Beresheet spacecraft, December 17, 2018 (Yoav Weiss)

The prime minister’s visit came as IAI scientists wrapped up preparations to launch the country’s first spacecraft to the moon, which, if successful, would be a breakthrough for both Israeli technology and commercial space travel.

Officials from IAI and SpaceIL told reporters Monday that the landing craft, dubbed Beresheet, or Genesis, is expected to be launched from Cape Canaveral in the coming months, though a precise date has not been set. Organizers are hoping for February.

The spacecraft, which weighs some 585 kilos (1,300 pounds), will be sent via a Falcon 9 rocket from American entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX firm and will take around a month and a half to arrive.

The cost of the project is some $95 million (84 million euros), with private philanthropists providing funding. Non-profit group SpaceIL partnered with IAI to develop the craft.

Scientists making the final preparations on Monday added a time capsule to the space pod that included drawings by children, pictures of Israeli symbols, Israeli songs and a booklet written by a Jewish man of his personal account of the Holocaust.

AFP contributed to this report. 

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