For a moment they emerged from the shadows of anonymity to glory.

Twenty three men and one woman, whose ingenuity, determination and sense of mission contributed to unprecedented breakthroughs in technological developments and discoveries that have been crucial to Israel’s security, were awarded the Israel Defense Prize during a ceremony at the President’s Residence on Monday.

Unlike other award ceremonies, where camera flashes pop as honorees pose for photographs, the only cameras allowed into this ceremony were official ones.

This year, as in the preceding 54 years in which the awards have been given, the names of the laureates, read out at the ceremony, will not be published in any newspaper or on any website. This is because the honorees are members of a secret army whose main goal is to develop new technologies for Israel’s defense.

President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Defense Ministry director-general Udi Shani and former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, who chaired the panel that determined which projects were most deserving of the prize, commended the four teams of scientific and technological experts made up of career officers, reserve officers and civilians whom Barak referred to as “anonymous heroes.”

While lauding the strength of Israel’s army, its ability to defend itself against all threats and its advanced technological capability, none of the speakers made any direct reference to Iran. The name was simply not mentioned. But there was a hint.

“Israel is capable of blasting every threat from near and from far,” said Peres, who advised Israel’s enemies not to make the mistake of underestimating Israel’s capabilities – both those that are obvious and those that are hidden.

Shani praised the laureates as the base for Israel’s security and told them they brought great pride to the nation – even if it did not know who they are.

Yatom said that throughout his years in the IDF and Mossad he had seen some amazing technological developments, but nothing that could compare with the projects that had been submitted for the prize.

They were all important breakthroughs, he said, adding he had been stunned by the creativity.

With the exception of the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system, none of the other projects could be even vaguely discussed – other than to have each speaker repeat that they were of enormous and unprecedented significance to Israel’s security.

Barak quoted Albert Einstein, who said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” He also complimented the honorees for their courage in going against the stream when others had given up.

A representative of the laureates said that all the teams had worked like well-oiled machines and made the impossible possible. They were all able to take a concept that had been rejected as impossible and turn it into reality.

He also shared the secret of success in almost any endeavor.

“Listen carefully to whoever tells you why something can’t be done, and along the way you’ll learn how to do it.”

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