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The Israeli Engineering Corps erects a fence along the Lebanon border in 2000
Antiterror, Inc.
Israel: Already experienced in security and crisis management, tech firms have services to export
By Emily Benedek
    Nov. 12 issue —  From his Jerusalem office, Fitz Haney looks out on a city that used to teem with foreign business people. American investment in Israel’s once booming technology sector is down by half over the past year. Fallout from the intifada? Not really, says Haney, a senior associate at Israel Seed Partners, the largest seed-stage venture-capital fund in the country. The trouble was dot-bombs, not real bombs. “We have a saying around here,” he says. ” ‘Nasdaq has been more detrimental to Israeli investment than Nablus has’.”  

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  IN FACT, since Sept. 11, things have been looking up in one segment of the technology sector. Israel’s grasp of terrorism’s grim realities gives it expertise the rest of the world could use. Airline safety? The Israelis know it cold. Secure facilities? They wrote the book. The country has firms that do everything from airport protection to crisis management. And they have these services to export.
        When Nasdaq reopened the week after the attacks, there was widespread financial carnage. But Magal Security Systems, an Israeli company, saw its share price double that day. Best known for its “smart” fences, the company was created in the 1960s in response to an Israel Defense Forces request for a method of securing the country’s borders. Founded as a unit of Israel Aircraft Industries, it was spun off and now has a market cap of $70 million and 2001 revenues estimated at $40 million.

Nov. 19 issue coverage:
•  International News
Previous Coverage:
•  Oct. 29 Issue : The Ground War's First Shots
•  Oct. 22 Issue: Counterstrikes and Scares
•  Oct. 15 Issue: Plumbing the Roots of Rage
•  Oct. 8 Issue: Bioterror, The New Threat
•  Oct. 1 Issue: Trail Of Terror
•  Sept. 24 Issue: God Bless America
•  Commemorative Edition: Spirit of America
•  Extra Edition: America Under Attack
•  Web-exclusive Archives
        Israel’s borders with its Arab neighbors are secured with Magal fencing—though not the West Bank, because of uncertainty about where to draw the borders. The company installed security systems at Buckingham Palace, is just completing work at Chicago’s O’Hare airport and has installed equipment at more than 400 U.S. correctional facilities. Magal systems don’t necessarily prevent entry (or exit). They determine whether an intruder is human or not—false alarms are dangerous. They can track an interloper’s movements, using such sensing systems as motion detectors, vibration detectors and microphonic cable disturbance. Magal also builds night-vision systems and offers fences that can secure waterways and sewer pipes. Its sensors can even identify the nature of a breach—was the fence cut, pushed or climbed over?—and communicate it to a command center. Since Sept. 11, says CEO Jacob Even-Ezra, a former counterterror expert in the Israeli Army Reserves, “we have been flooded with inquiries” from U.S. airports, reservoirs and oil refineries.
        Airborne terror has been a top Israeli concern ever since the epidemic of Middle East hijackings that began in 1968. International Consultants on Targeted Security (ICTS), a 19-year-old company that employs 11,000 people worldwide in 90 locations and has $200 million in revenues, provides airport and airline security. The company offers an array of customized services for analyzing risk, training security personnel and creating security systems—in some cases, to the level of hand-inspecting every food tray that is placed onboard an aircraft by its catering service. It handles preboarding screening with computers that cross-check the validity of passports and visas. It has developed software to examine cargo manifests for suspicious shipments and employs special machines to graphically “slice” carry-on baggage for more detailed inspection than conventional X-ray equipment. With systems like these, claims ICTS president and CEO Lior Zouker, a former air marshal for El Al airlines, there is no need to “reinvent the wheel” in airport security.
CEO Joel Feldschuh of Ganden Security Services Solutions is marketing security techniques first developed to protect Israeli airports and airlines

        Now a company called Ganden Security Services Solutions (GS-3) has started up to help fight the newly escalated war. It boasts an all-star team of Israeli aviation. The CEO is Gen. Joel Feldschuh, a former head of Israeli Air Force intelligence during the gulf war who later served as CEO of El Al. The advisory board includes Israel Ben Haim, the former general manager of Ben-Gurion airport, and Nery Yarkoni, former general director of Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority. All three men are former fighter pilots, and along with Offer Einav, GS-3’s president and the former head of security for El Al, they cover the bases from regulation to security to business expertise.
“We actually have known for many, many years that if you do it the smart way, you can deliver top security to the customers as a pleasant product.”
president, GS-3
        GS-3 will sell techniques developed to protect Ben-Gurion, one of the most secure airports in the world, as well as El Al. It will evaluate security measures at airports, help teach airlines how to screen passengers efficiently, train baggage checkers and develop new technologies for aircraft infrastructure like cockpit doors. Einav says the company’s procedures are relatively nonintrusive: “We actually have known for many, many years that if you do it the smart way, you can deliver top security to the customers as a pleasant product.” Feldschuh says, “Airline travel is now down 20 to 30 percent worldwide. We feel that returning confidence to airline travelers is a mission today. Air traffic, or the lack of it, has an influence on the economy of the whole free world.”
        Israeli companies are known for acting quickly. Beginning in mid-October, Maverick Defense Technologies developed a machine that can check letters and packages for suspicious contents, such as a powder. “It is meant for a small business, and it is extremely simple,” says company CEO Dov Magen. The technology does not detect specific agents such as anthrax. “It could be powdered soup,” he acknowledges.
        Civil defense became critical to Israeli planning after Iraq launched Scud missiles against Tel Aviv during the gulf war. The Israeli government was hemmed in: under American pressure, it had agreed not to retaliate by bombing Baghdad. The country’s Home Front Command had the job of preparing it for further attacks—including not just survival techniques but also ways of coping with the fear of biological or chemical warfare. Among the command’s innovations: new apartment buildings that include “safe” rooms in each apartment, with blastproof windows that can be sealed against biological and chemical agents.
        In 1998 several former members of the Home Front Command formed a company called Israteam to take advantage of expertise acquired during the gulf war. Not every threat can be prepared for, “even by the richest country in the world,” says Israteam VP Yori Sofrin, a former Air Force colonel. “We think we have the ability to define the exact threat that you want to be prepared for, the most probable one, then choose a special solution for that.” Israteam has helped Turkey plan for disaster relief after earthquakes, and is helping “a large city in Southeast Asia” prepare for possible bioterror attacks. Company representatives met with city and state officials in New York City, as well as federal and military officials, after the Sept. 11 attacks. “Since the first attack on the World Trade Center, the U.S. decided to develop emergency plans for its cities,” says Sofrin. “Now it has to ratchet them up.”
        However, Sofrin insists, preparation for disaster is not enough. He recalls being asked at a symposium on weapons of mass destruction sponsored by Jane’s, the military publisher, “What is the right answer to terror?”
        And he answered, “The right way to fight terror is to fight it. Protection is not enough.”
        Which makes one wonder for a moment: wouldn’t it be grand if Magal’s fancy perimeter fences could record not only a description of intruders, their location, direction and speed, but also the contents of their hearts?
        “Ah, well,” says Magal chairman Even-Ezra, “we live in a democracy. You can’t do that.”
       © 2001 Newsweek, Inc.
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