Liberman: Israel Has the Best Plane Defense Systems in the World

YERUSHALAYIM -
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman watches a drill of the Israeli air force, on Sunday. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)

Planes coming into and leaving Israel are the safest in the world from a security standpoint, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said. Speaking on a tour of the soon-to-be-opened Ramon Airport outside Eilat, Liberman said that “the IDF has established a security layer for passenger planes based on advanced technology that is unlike anything that exists anywhere else. We are prepared for the opening of the Ramon Airport, and we hope it will open very soon.”

Liberman also toured the security fence on the border with Jordan, along with top IDF officials. The border fence runs for 30 kilometers between Eilat and north of the Ramon Airport, along the Jordanian border, and is in final stages of completion. The IDF officials told Liberman that the fence is equipped with high-tech detection and defense systems that will protect air traffic at the airport from numerous threats, including missile firings. A 4.5 kilometer section of the fence that runs parallel to the airport reaches 30 meters into the sky, with the rest of the fence six meters high – sufficient to prevent intruders from climbing over it, the officials said.

Travel officials expect the new airport to significantly increase the number of tourists to Eilat. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz has ordered the Airports Authority to develop deals with some 70 airlines to fly into the new Ilan and Assaf Ramon Airport, which is set to open in April.With international-level runways and a large passenger terminal, along with facilities for cargo, luggage and catering, the Ramon Airport will be in a position to take in flights from all international carriers that fly to and from Israel, and Katz hopes to bring new carriers as well. The new airport will replace the Eilat airport and the Ovda airfield, where several international carriers, including Wizz Air and EasyJet, already fly.

Besides travelers to and from Eilat, airlines see an opportunity to increase their passenger load from the rest of Israel, as Israelis seeking discounted flights to Europe will likely take the short-haul flight from Ben Gurion Airport via Israir or Arkia and transfer to their international flights to Europe, Katz said. One reason why Katz is confident he will achieve his goal is that landing fees at the new airport will be suspended for three years. “This is an important incentive for the airlines,” he said. “Eilat is a destination and this is the main reason we developed the airport, but airlines see this as an opportunity to increase their flights to Israel. We will continue to develop airports in Israel and we want to ensure that the low-cost revolution reaches every household in Israel.”