- The Washington Times - Friday, November 23, 2001

JERUSALEM (AP) The new climate stressing safety against terrorists offers a potential bonanza for companies in security-conscious Israel from the El Al airline, hijacker-free for decades, to Internet start-ups selling safety in cyberspace.
The reports of companies adding shifts and hiring workers to meet surging demand for gas masks, electronic fences and encryption systems is welcome news in a country whose economy has otherwise been hobbled by the year of fighting with the Palestinians and the global high-tech crisis.
Max Livnat, chief of the Investment Promotion Center at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said it was too early to put a figure on the windfall, but that Israel had found "a new market, in the field of security, which will remain for quite a long time."
"People are contacting Israel because they feel we have the expertise," he said an expertise that comes from a half-century of conflict with the Arabs and one of the longest track records in fighting modern forms of terrorism, such as hijackings and with much less success suicide bombings.
Private security spending in the United States will reach $30 billion in 2002 and Israeli companies will rake in a chunk of that, said New York analyst Jack Mallon, who writes the Mallon Security Investing newsletter.
"Because Israel has been under fire, they are in the forefront in terms of security products," he said.
One example is the Israeli company Magal Security Systems, established by the government in the 1960s to create a fence system to prevent border raids from Jordan. Now it is known for installing the security fence around Buckingham Palace.
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and just outside Washington, the phone calls to Magal from airports, nuclear facilities, power stations and army bases around the world have increased sharply, Magal President Izhar Dekel said.
Sales should take off in 2002, Mr. Dekel said.
Israel's national air carrier, El Al, had to deal with several hijackings before it adopted new security procedures in the late 1960s that included security marshals on every flight, specially trained pilots, X-raying all luggage and profiling of passengers. Three decades have passed without an El Al hijacking.
Ticket sales at El Al have jumped 10 percent since the attacks on the United States, and travel agents say customers are switching due to security concerns.
El Al and Boeing Co., the world's largest jet manufacturer, are examining a joint venture on airline security that would offer advice to airports, train stations and subways. El Al hopes to use the venture to adapt its security measures to other forms of travel, said its president, David Hermesh.
Individual Israelis also have benefited.
Raphael Ron, the former head of security at Israel's Ben Gurion airport, has been hired to strengthen security at Boston's Logan International Airport, the takeoff point of the two planes that were crashed into the World Trade Center.
The anthrax attacks that followed widened the security net.


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