Israeli defense official says exports are booming

Private and state-owned Israeli defense manufacturers have signed overseas sales contracts worth around $10 billion over the past two years, a senior defense official said Thursday. Yossi Ben-Hannan, chief of export sales at the Israeli Defense Ministry, told The Associated Press that the biggest clients were the United States and India, accounting between them for about $3 billion in deals signed over the past year. He did not give a breakdown. Israel said last year that with $4.3 billion in sales in 2007 it had became the world's fourth largest defense exporter, behind the United States, Russia and France and ahead of Britain. Ben-Hannan said the trade gives a valuable boost to Israel's economy. "Every billion dollars in new contracts creates another 20,000 jobs," he said.