‘If you are in security and mention that the product is from Israel, people perk up their ears and listen.’The vast and growing number of Israeli companies involved in security and defense equipment was evident at the 16th International Security & Defense Exhibition.

The exhibition, “Security Israel 2003” which is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition in Israel for security and defense systems, was held in Tel Aviv this month.

There was enough equipment in the exhibition hall to outfit the set of the next Arnold Schwartznegger film – armored cars, fencing equipment, computerized video survellience equipment, bullet-proof vests, weaponry and masks and chemical attack protection suits, and other devices.

Visitors from around the world came to see what Israel had to offer and to do business with them.

“This is a significant launching pad for security products and services,” said American businessman Edward Christie as he mingled with Israeli vendors. “The reputation of Israeli companies in the security industry is exceptionally strong. If you are in security and mention that the product is from Israel, people perk up their ears and listen. So it’s valuable for anyone involved in the sector to be aware of what is happening here.”

Carlos Davidov, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida attended the expo representing his company specializing in armoring products. His company manufactures a unique kind of one-way glass for armored cars. The glass is bulletproof from the outside in – bullets cannot enter the window, however it allows those inside the car to return fire outside the car.

“We have several cooperative projects with Israeli companies in the same field, and with the defense industry” said Davidov. “Israel has to be on the cutting edge of security and it is.” He calls his ties with his Israeli counterparts “excellent.”

With a friendly wave, Davidov greeted Assaf Hefetz, former Israeli chief of police, who now works as a security consultant around the world, as do many retired Israel police and defense officials.

Booths around the exhibition hall featured manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, retailers and service providers of security, safety, protection and prevention systems.

Fences of every shape and size were exhibited, along with sophisticated computer systems for monitoring the areas that these fences protect – ranging from those surrounding one building to those surrounding an entire complex or region. Israeli companies construct and sell observation towers and combat posts in addition to the fences.

Outdoors in the parking lot were armored vehicles of every shape, size, and capabilities, including special bulletproof patrol cars for guarding border areas.

In addition to the exhibitions, special seminars were held at the exhibition focusing on various aspects of security and civil defense.

One session focused on protecting public transportation – both vehicles and terminals and stations, geared to managers and officials running such services.

Seminar participants in this session witnessed a simulation of a terrorist takeover of a train coach for purposes of ransom, including negotiation by emergency intervention teams, the storming of the coach, neutralization of the terrorists and release of the hostages.

Sessions were also held on terrorism and risk management, and on coping with the chilling threat of non-conventional warfare such as atomic, biological, and chemical threats and the formation of emergency plans of action. This session which also included a simulated demonstration on how to manage such a crisis.

A full day was devoted to training in civil security: organizing structures for initial reactions to emergencies, spotting and evaluating weaknesses and potential crisis, and training personnel as emergency security operators. The session was designed to assist company directors, security officers, and officials of public institutions, factory managers and head of regional and federal agencies, and other places that could be the target of terrorist attack, drawing on past experience and acquired expertise.