Three classified defense projects win top security prize
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Three classified defense projects win top security prize

Mossad agent ‘Aleph’ to receive lifetime achievement award; defense minister, president praise recipients for contributions to state security

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits the site of a proposed Military Intelligence base that will be constructed in southern Israel. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits the site of a proposed Military Intelligence base that will be constructed in southern Israel. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday announced this year’s recipients of Israel’s top security prize: three classified projects involving the military, Mossad spy agency, Shin Bet security service, Defense Ministry and defense contractors.

In addition, a lifetime achievement award was presented to a senior Mossad officer who can only be identified by the first Hebrew letter of his name: Aleph.

The award, which is named for the commander of Israel’s pre-state Hagana militia Eliyahu Golomb, is presented each year to people and projects deemed to have made a significant contribution to the country’s security.

The nature of the projects that won the prize this year remains largely classified. All three were projects involving at least two security organizations.

One was led by the Mossad, the Rafael defense contractor, the Israeli Air Force, and the Israel Defense Force’s visual intelligence, Unit 9900.

“As part of the project, the IDF gained specialized capabilities, a technological breakthrough was achieved, and outstanding vision, creativity and determination were displayed,” the Defense Ministry said.

Another winner was a project led by the Israeli Aerospace Industries, with assistance from the IAF, the Defense Ministry’s research-and-development department, Rafael, and the Elbit Systems defense contractor.

“The project was performed with the utmost courage and determination, overcoming unprecedented gaps in technological knowledge, and allowing for a leap forward in the IDF’s capabilities,” the ministry said.

The third project to receive the award this year was a joint effort by the Shin Bet and Military Intelligence.

“The project included innovative advancements in a number of areas and made a significant contribution to the security of the state,” the ministry said.

Thanks to their talent, dedication and commitment to the mission, the security of Israeli citizens has been ensured, and we have breakthrough capabilities

In addition, “Aleph” of the Mossad will receive a lifetime achievement award for his “years-long contribution to the security of the state and for his initiative [in developing] many technological solutions, while displaying outstanding talent, creativity, curiosity, and courage,” the ministry said.

The awards will be presented to the winners on September 13, in a ceremony at the President’s Residence that will be attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Gantz, IDF chief Aviv Kohavi, and Director-General of the Defense Minister Maj. Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel.

In a statement, Gantz and Rivlin praised the recipients of the prize for their contributions to the security of the country.

“Thanks to their talent, dedication and commitment to the mission, the security of Israeli citizens has been ensured, and we have breakthrough capabilities,” Gantz said.

President Reuven Rivlin casts his ballot at a voting station in Jerusalem during the Knesset elections on March 2, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“Especially because the work of the winners was done in secret, I am proud to give them this recognition in the name of all the citizens of Israel for their mighty contributions, investment and work, and for their contribution to the resilience of Israeli society,” he said.

Rivlin thanked the winners for the “long nights, the days, weeks and months of exhausting and grueling work” that led to their achievements.

“The threats facing the State of Israel, its well-being, and the lives of its citizens are constantly updating and renewing. The technological arms race is a war that never ends,” Rivlin said.

Last year’s winners of the Golomb security prize were the Mossad agents behind the operation to steal Iran’s nuclear archive last year, along with the IDF team that located and destroyed a number of cross-border attack tunnels dug by the Hezbollah terror group from southern Lebanon into Israel; a Shin Bet technology unit that developed an advanced algorithm to “detect hostile activities and prevent serious damage to the security of the state”; and a team from the Rafael and Elbit defense contractors, the Israeli Air Force and the Defense Ministry that developed an advanced air-to-ground missile, known in Hebrew as Barad Kal, meaning “light hail,” or more commonly as the SPICE 1000.

The Security Prize has been given yearly by the president since 1958. Though the prize is sometimes given for lifetime achievement, generally the recipients are responsible for the creation of a new piece of technology or a specific operation.

Over the years, the prize has been awarded both to individuals, like Uzi Gal who received the first Israel Defense Prize in 1958 for creating the Uzi submachine gun, and to entire teams, like the group responsible for the development of the TROPHY anti-missile system that protects Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers, which won in 2014.

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