The head of Israel’s missile defense program has been terminated from his position for allegedly storing classified information on a personal computer.
Yair Ramati engaged in “severe information security violations,” says the Israeli Defense Ministry’s statement on the issue,”he cannot continue to hold his position at the Defense Ministry.” Ramati was effectively removed from his position Sunday. The Defense Ministry has been silent on the details of the security breach, however Yitzhak Ben Israel, Israel’s space agency chief and a friend of Ramati, hinted in a recent interview with Israeli Army Radio: “If you are well-known, and Yair was well-known … you need to assume that your personal computer is a target to foreign actors.”
Ramati, a thirty-year veteran of Israel’s missile defense program, is responsible for some of the most incredible technical advances in the Israeli Defense Ministry. In 2003, he won the Israel Defense Prize for his work on the Arrow 2 system, a long-range interceptor platform. Since then, he has ushered in the short-range Iron Dome system, which saw significant use during last summer’s war with Gaza. The system can successfully intercept upwards of 90% of targeted rockets and mortars, preventing them from striking their targets in Israel’s dense population centers.
The news of Ramati’s firing comes just weeks after Israel announced two major accomplishments in its missile program development. On December 10, the Arrow 3 system, the Arrow 2’s successor, successfully destroyed a target in space. On December 21, the new medium-range interceptor system known as David’s Sling passed its benchmarks, readying it for delivery in 2016.
The security breach could pose a risk for more than just the Israelis, considering many of Ramati’s projects were jointly developed with the United States. The new David’s Sling system will eventually replace the Patriot missile system that allowed the U.S. to defend against Saddam Hussein’s Scud missiles during the Gulf War. The Iron Dome system has seen $1.28 billion in U.S. investment and has been shared with the U.S. military. The Arrow 3, which would ostensibly be Israel’s counter to an Iranian nuclear weapon, has also seen joint development with the United States.
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