Few months ago, I reviewed Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot’s enthralling book The Weapons Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower (St. Martin’s Press). They expose the adaptive and innovative qualities so characteristic of Israel’s ethos – ethos that was essential to its birth, survival and evolution in the family of nations, markedly in the defense sector. I was particularly thrilled to read about Dr. Daniel Gold, current Head of the Directorate of Defense R&D for the Ministry of Defense of Israel and father of the legendary “Iron Dome”, which intercepts and destroys short-range rockets and artillery shells aimed at Israel.
Last June, I was invited by Mr. David Levy, Consul General of Israel in Montreal, to a Zoom conference with Dr. Gold. The theme of the discussion was Israel’s fight against COVID-19.
Apart from realizing the magnitude of Tsahal’s across-the-board involvement in the fight against the pandemic, one of the comments made by Brigadier-General (ret.) Dr. Gold struck me in a particular way. To paraphrase him, in Israel, when there is a crisis, the concerned actors get to work; budgetary concerns come after. This reminded me of a passage in The Weapon Wizards where Dr. Gold is quoted as saying that Israel “[…] didn’t have the luxury of waiting. It needed to survive.” It was then about the development of the Iron Dome, but this tenet now finds a very concrete application with the current pandemic with which we all have to cope.
Following the conference, I was eager to submit a few questions regarding Israel and the pandemic to Dr. Gold, a famous Israeli scientist. I am very grateful towards M. Levy who generously accepted to pass along my list of questions.
You will find below our insightful exchange about the fight against this worldwide pandemic and how Israel plans to prevail.
My main goal has been, and continues to be, the identification and adaptation of defense technologies, to provide diagnostic tools and clinical solutions in order to meet the urgent challenges of the ongoing events.
BGen (ret.) Dr. Daniel Gold
What role has been played by the Research and Development Department of the Israeli Ministry of Defense in fighting COVID-19?
Since the outbreak of the Corona epidemic, many different organizations have offered their help to the Ministry of Health.
As head of DDR&D at IMOD, my main goal has been, and continues to be, the identification and adaptation of defense technologies, to provide diagnostic tools and clinical solutions in order to meet the urgent challenges of the ongoing events.
I drafted my experts in all disciplines-from AI sensors, robotics to materials, and even some biologists, who are world leading experts in quick, efficient R&D to meet challenging and urgent needs, just like we did with the development of Iron Dome or with the counter-tunnel efforts.
We are leading the National Technology Center for the Combat against the Corona Epidemic to address various aspects of the coronavirus epidemic, and working together with the personnel of MoH, the lsraeli Innovation Authority, the National Security Council, defense industries and many others, to map the current and future needs and to provide quick solutions, prioritized to tackle the most urgent challenges.