'We could not compromise,' defense minister tells ousted missile defense chief

Ya'alon meets with ex-Missile Defense Organization chief Yair Ramati, apologizes "for way in which announcement was made."

January 1, 2016 13:15
2 minute read.
David's Sling

David's Sling. (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told cashiered Israel Missile Defense Organization chief Yair Ramati on Friday that there was no choice but to fire him after breaches of information security came to light.

Yair Ramati was ousted from his position at the IMDO (also known as the Homa Administration) after the Defense Ministry said it found he had placed classified data on his personal computer, in violation of strict information security procedures.

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“I would like to thank you for your years of service in the Defense Ministry as head of Homa, and before that, for your work at Israel Aerospace Industries and the IDF. Your contribution to the fortification of the security of Israel is enormous, and I wish we could tell citizens about what you did for them,” Ya’alon told Ramati.

Ya’alon highlighted Ramati’s contribution to Israel’s Arrow missile-defense program, as well as the Iron Dome and David’s Sling defense systems, adding that “Israel, its citizens, and strategic cites are safer thanks to these developments, of which you were a central part.”

Addressing the controversial nature of Ramati’s departure, Ya’alon said, “With much regret... We were forced to stop your work at the Defense Ministry. The decision was taken with a very heavy heart, but we had no choice. Our obligation is to enforce data security regulations, certainly when a person of your position and role does not keep to the guidelines, even if unintentionally. Hence, we could not, regrettably, compromise when we discovered these blunders.”

Ya’alon also apologized to Ramati “for the way in which the announcement on the end of your role was made. We will know how to draw the lessons from this, and it does not reflect our great appreciation for your work.”

On Thursday, members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee requested an urgent meeting to discuss the sudden and unexpected firing of Ramati.

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

MK Nachman Shai (Labor), who initiated the request, said it is 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.

No comment was available from Yair Ramati.

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