MKs request urgent meeting to discuss firing of missile chief

Yair Ramati was ousted from his position after the Defense Ministry said it found that he had placed classified data on his personal computer.

January 1, 2016 04:00
2 minute read.
Iron dome

Soldiers stand near the Iron Dome missile defense system outside Tel Aviv.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Thursday requested an urgent meeting to discuss the sudden and unexpected firing of Israel Missile Defense Organization chief Yair Ramati this week.

Ramati was ousted from his position after the Defense Ministry said it found that he had placed classified data on his personal computer, in violation of strict information security procedures.

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He is the third senior figure in the defense establishment to lose his position over classified information violations, after two IDF officers also were forced to leave their positions in recent months.

A majority of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee members petitioned committee chairman Knesset Member Tzachi Hanegbi with a request to hold an urgent meeting to discuss the development.

MK Nachman Shai (Labor), who initiated the request, said it was the Knesset’s duty to ensure parliamentary supervision and receive a full account of the events that led to Ramati’s sacking.

“This is one of the key people in the defense establishment, who has led in recent years to outstanding achievements in the field of missile defense. We cannot let this issue slip away from the committee’s affairs,” Shai said.

The Knesset member also asked state comptroller Yosef Shapira to look into the firing of Ramati.

According to committee protocols, if at least one third of members seek a meeting, the chairman must comply and call a session.

Ramati oversaw the development of all of Israel’s missile and rocket defense shields. His sudden departure has left the defense establishment stunned.

He served as head of the IMDO, known in Hebrew as the “Homa Administration,” for four years, managing and developing the groundbreaking Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow-2, and Arrow-3 air defense systems.

Ramati also oversaw a series of successful trials of interception systems in recent years, in what the Defense Ministry described as “unusual achievements, on a world scale, for the active, multi-layered missile defenses.”

The ministry said in a statement this week that “recently, a severe information security issue was discovered, which meant that Ramati could no longer continue to carry out his role in the Defense Ministry. The issue will be dealt with by the authorized elements.”

It added that Ramati had achieved a great deal on behalf of national security, and wished him much success in his future path.

Just last week, Ramati oversaw the successful trial of the David’s Sling system, designed to shoot down short- and medium-range projectiles.

“This weapons system is ripe and ready. The result is excellent. We have an efficient, fast, deadly missile,” Ramati said after the trial.

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