Israel tests US-backed missile shield as Iran nuclear deadline looms

Updated 01 April 2015

Israel tests US-backed missile shield as Iran nuclear deadline looms

JERUSALEM: A new Israeli air defense system being developed in partnership with the United States has passed advanced tests, the Israeli Defense Ministry said on Wednesday, putting it on course for possible deployment by next year.
Defense sources said tests for David’s Sling took place last week and on Tuesday, the last day before a deadline for international negotiations on Iran’s disputed nuclear program.
The terms of those talks have been vehemently opposed by Israel as insufficient and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday it was not too late for world powers to demand a “better deal.”
Apart from a potential nuclear showdown with Tehran, Israel sees threats from Syria and Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia.
“In the Middle East there is no time to waste,” a senior Israeli defense official involved in the program told Reuters.
Known in Hebrew as Magic Wand, David’s Sling is being manufactured jointly by Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and US firm Raytheon Co..
Designed to shoot down rockets with ranges of between 100 km and 200 km (63 miles and 125 miles), aircraft or low-flying cruise missiles, it will fill the operational gap between Israel’s Iron Dome short-range rocket interceptor and the Arrow ballistic missile interceptor, both already active.
The latest successful tests will likely strengthen support among US lawmakers for Israel’s request for additional funds.
Israeli officials last month asked US lawmakers for $317 million in additional funding for David’s Sling and other Israeli missile defense programs, on top of $158 million in funding already requested by the Obama administration in its fiscal 2016 budget.
Last year, David’s Sling lost out on a Polish tender after Washington made clear to the Israelis that it preferred that a rival US system win.
The latest tests were conducted under unusually strict secrecy, and had been rescheduled at least once.
Planners had considered holding one of the tests on March 3, hours ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech at the US Congress where he praised the Obama administration’s defense aid for Israel while rebuking its Iran negotiations.


‘Made-in-Gaza’ device fights coronavirus spread

Updated 46 sec ago

‘Made-in-Gaza’ device fights coronavirus spread

  • Innovation Makers has sold dozens of machines to supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants

GAZA CITY: Entering a Gaza City restaurant, customers are welcomed by a multi-tasking disinfection machine designed by a Palestinian businesswoman to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the crisis-hit enclave.
Spraying hand sanitizer while taking the person’s temperature, the 2-meter-high device offers an all-in-one disinfection experience.
If the body temperature is too high, a red signal will light up. Otherwise the restaurant door opens automatically to allow the customer in.
“In Gaza, we have basic devices imported from abroad to measure temperatures, and others to disinfect, but our devices combine multiple technologies in one,” creator Heba Al-Hindi told AFP.
The densely populated Palestinian coastal enclave, under an Israeli-enforced blockade since 2007, was initially largely spared by Covid-19 when the pandemic broke out.
But dire economic conditions, a poor health care system and chronic electricity shortages, partly caused by the blockade, made Gaza especially vulnerable to the virus.
Confirmed infections in the enclave have topped 5,440 with 31 deaths.
“When Covid-19 reached the Gaza Strip, I told myself I had to find a way to fight its spread,” said Hindi.
“Then came the idea of creating a sanitiser and I designed these smart machines.”
The 37-year-old mathematics graduate heads Innovation Makers, a company that has created eight anti-Covid products, including a blue and yellow robot-like machine to appeal to children.
She said the project makes money but that “our focus is not on the profit.”

HIGHLIGHT

Spraying hand sanitizer while taking the person’s temperature, the 2-meter-high device offers an all-in-one disinfection experience.

“We’re focusing on a Palestinian product and a Palestinian invention from within the siege in the Gaza Strip, to show this invention to the world.”
Innovation Makers has sold dozens of machines to supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants, for between $550 and $1,500 depending on the technology used.
The products have been patented by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Economy Ministry, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The company finds spare parts for the devices on the local market but is barred by Israel from exporting the “Made in Gaza” creations, slowing down Hindi’s ambitions.
Management at the Taboun restaurant is delighted with the disinfecting machines they bought.
“The device is remarkable,” said Matar Matar, hospitality manager at the Gaza eatery, adding that he found out about it on social media.
Customers are happy to see that “something new is being developed in Gaza,” he said.
Computer engineer Mohammad Natat, 23, said he was proud to be part of the team that created the machine.
“I had the opportunity to take part in this work and be creative in my field,” he said. “It was a huge chance to have some work.”
Around half of Gaza’s population is out of work, two-thirds of them young people, according to the World Bank, and more than two thirds of residents depend on humanitarian aid.