Israel's Defense Ministry Names Insider as Interim Head of Missile Program

Appointment of Col. Aviram Hasson comes after ouster of Yair Ramati for serious breach of regulations; joint U.S.-Israeli exercise to be held in a few weeks, simulating operation of defense systems

A test of the David’s Sling anti-missile system, also known as Magic Wand. The missile is being fired from a battery.
Spokesperson's Unit/Defense Ministry

The Defense Ministry has chosen an insider from its anti-missile development division to temporarily head the division. Col. Aviram Hasson’s appointment at Homa comes two weeks after the removal of previous head Yair Ramati, who was ousted for a serious breach of regulations regarding data security.

Hasson is currently head of a department at Homa, which oversees the development of the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missile interception systems. Hasson’s department was responsible for low-range and medium-range anti-missile systems (namely, Iron Dome and David’s Sling – also known as Magic Wand).

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon met Ramati last Friday and expressed regret over the manner in which the latter’s dismissal was announced. The minister’s office stated that the two men had met for a “farewell conversation.”

“To our great regret and in view of the circumstances, we have had to terminate your employment at the ministry,” Ya’alon said during the meeting. “The decision was taken with a heavy heart, but we had no choice. We have to be meticulous regarding both light and serious transgressions, especially when a person of your stature and in your role does not abide by regulations – even if this was not done maliciously. As a result, sadly we could not compromise when we discovered these missteps and had to terminate your employment here.”

A comprehensive joint exercise is set to be held by Israel and the United States in about three weeks. It will simulate the operation of various anti-missile defense systems, including the long-range Arrow anti-ballistic missile. The biannual exercise, called Juniper Cobra 16, will involve American soldiers coming to Israel. During the last such drill in 2014, two Aegis warships, which carry anti-missile defense systems, came to the Mediterranean to participate in the exercise.