Why Israeli Commanders Are Fundraising to Buy Gear

While Israel’s defense industry is booming, many of its units are reportedly lacking in necessary equipment. Since the October 7 attacks caught the IDF unprepared, commanders in the field have been soliciting donations to make up for the shortfalls, despite an official prohibition on doing so. Diaspora Jews have responded by organizing networks to meet their requests. Asaf Elia-Shalev writes that civilians have delivered individual units an estimated billion dollars or more in helmets and drones as well as clothing, night-vision goggles, body armor, rifle scopes, and other items.

Elia-Shalev describes what moved a reserve officer named Micha Shtiebel, one of the few willing to speak on the record, to start doing his own logistics:

Many of his soldiers were stuck with standard-issue army helmets, some from as early as the 1970s, which are not only horribly uncomfortable but possibly unsafe. Combat helmets, especially when they have taken a beating, can offer less ballistic protection over time. The volunteers quickly provided Shtiebel with 150 new tactical helmets, which cost $400 each. Then, he asked the volunteers for drones.

Israeli infantry units didn’t typically use drones before the current war, but as civilian volunteers began providing them, ordinary soldiers found that the ability to survey the battlefield from the sky or search the inside of homes that might be booby-trapped with explosives could save their lives. Soldiers have come to regard these small drones, which are readily available in American electronics stores, as nearly as essential as helmets.

Read more at JTA

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel and the Diaspora

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation