Iron Dome in action
The system that they developed protects the lives and property of hundreds of thousands of Israelis. Now the people behind the Iron Dome system are aiming to protect the mental health of the residents of southern Israel.
During a festive ceremony on Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak will give eight of the senior engineers who developed the revolutionary anti-rocket system the Israel Defense Prize.
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Some 300 engineers and technicians worked night and day to develop the Iron Dome from the moment the security cabinet approved the project in December 2007.
Among the eight winners are engineers from the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (ADWTI), engineers from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Air Force personnel.
Now that the system has proven its efficiency and usefulness and has managed to intercept Qassam and Grad rockets fired from the Gaza Strip time and again, the developers felt the need to do a little something extra for the residents of southern Israel: By providing for their mental health.
The "brains" behind the Iron Dome decided to donate the NIS 40,000 ($9,930) - which was supposed to be divided among the eight prize winners – to the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council Resilience Center.
The center offers psychological therapy during periods of escalating tension but also accompanies residents and locals who suffer from shock all year round.
"We know the key developers (of the system) and have been in contact with them throughout the years of development and so we have formed a special connection. It is a great honor for us that they chose to give us their winnings," said Shaar HaNegev Regional Council Alon Schuster,
"It warms the heart to discover that even at times when they were working 24/7 to develop the system, the developers never lost sight of the complex situation that southern residents face daily."
Y., The engineer at the head of the Iron Dome development team, is one of the winners of the prestigious prize. "The organization I represent struck up a special relationship with the residents of Shaar HaNegev," he said.
"During the development of Iron Dome we went to visit Sderot and the Shaar HaNegev towns and met with residents whose homes face the Gaza Strip and heard about life in the area.
"I must say, the talk was a great motivator for the team, this gives us closure."
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