arms expo 88.
(photo credit: )
Once the scene of Nazi pogroms and massacres against Jews, the Polish city of Kielce changed colors on Tuesday. Sixty years after the Holocaust, it opened its doors to 16 Israeli defense industries exhibiting their wares at the 14th MSPO International Defense Industry Exhibition taking place in the city.
Located in southeastern Poland, Kielce was once home to 24,000 Jews who were all - except two - killed during the Holocaust. In 1941, a ghetto was built in the city, and most of the Jews were moved there before being transferred to Nazi concentration camps. In July 1946, local Poles murdered 46 Jews who had returned to the city after the war to rebuild the destroyed Jewish community.
The Israeli defense delegation, led by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Ben-Hanan, director of SIBAT, held a short ceremony during the opening of the expo on Monday and visited the local Jewish cemetery. Speaking at the ceremony, Ben-Hanan said that the Israeli participation at the expo demonstrated the "might and strength" of the State of Israel and the Jewish nation. The opening ceremony took place in the presence of Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Ambassador to Poland David Peleg.
"While the purpose of this defense exhibition is to present military equipment and weapon systems produced by different countries and industries," Ben-Hanan said, "we truly wish and hope that all these weapons will only be used for deterrence and for peacekeeping missions."
Kaczynski toured the Israeli pavilion and inspected the impressive displays with his entourage, including advanced intelligence and C4I systems that had been used during the recent fight against Hizbullah.
"I am deeply impressed by the originality and strength displayed in the pavilion," he said. "I hope that cooperation between Poland and Israel will continue to develop in various areas."
The companies presenting at the expo included Aeronatics, Beit El Industries, Controp, CI Systems, Elbit Systems, Elisra Group, Hydro Noa, IAI, IMI, Motorola, Soltam, Rafael, Tamor Verint, and Israel Military Industries.