JERUSALEM, Israel – When Israel's enemies began shooting missiles into the Jewish state, they developed a system that behaves as the equivalent of a bullet hitting a bullet. That's just one example of how Israel became a world leader in developing high-tech weapons. The story of how a tiny nation of 8 million became a global military superpower has been captured in a new book.
When it comes to state-of-the-art weapons, author and Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Yaakov Katz told CBN News Israel may be the world's "most innovative military."
Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
"The Israeli military has succeeded in such a short time – in under 70 years – in establishing what's the most formidable, powerful militaries in the world, and possibly the most innovative military in the world," he said.
Katz co-authored the book, The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Super Power.
"Israel is at the forefront of missile defense technology, whether it's the Arrow or the Iron Dome that everyone is familiar with," he explained. "Israel's a world leader in drone technology. Israel builds its own tanks. Israel's leading in cyberwarfare. Where did all of this come from? How did such a tiny little country in such a short amount of time manage to achieve such great success?"
Katz says one reason Israel achieved this level of success is simply survival. Just 70 years ago, five Arab nations attacked on the day it was born – a country with no natural resources.
"What was the one natural resource that Israel had? The Jewish brain; the brains that came here and those brains were what was used to be able to survive," he continued. "So when you have this amazing recipe of threat, of this threat matrix, of your back up against the wall, you have no choice but to use the one thing you have, which is your brain and you have to innovate."
And Israel did that. Case in point: its missile defense system. The Iron dome has shot down hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel.
"That's how Israel said, 'one second, we're facing missiles that are coming at us from Iraq, from Syria, from Gaza. We have to come up with a system that doesn't exist in today's world.'
Israel's Three-Tier Anti-Missile Defense System, Graphic, Jonathan Goff, CBN News
"And that's how they came up with the Arrow, which can intercept ballistic missiles; and with David's Sling, which can intercept medium-range missiles; and with (the) Iron Dome, which can intercept and has proven to intercept over 85 percent of the missiles that are fired from the Gaza Strip," he said.
"And that's how Israel has developed this amazing technology that's still highly classified to be able to detect the tunnels that Hamas is digging under the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, a technology that exists nowhere else in the world. Because Israel's at the forefront of warfare and because of these threats, it has no choice but to innovate and to create," Katz said.
IDF's Culture of Independence
Not all of Israel's power comes from hi-tech products. It also includes its people and especially the army's creation of a culture of independence.
"We all think about the United States army. Everyone's dressed in their uniforms, right. People take things very seriously. Everyone's saluting, sir, ma'am, all these terms. Israel's completely different," he said. "The ranks that you carry on your shoulder are meaningless to the – in between soldiers. That enables free thinking. It allows the chief-of-staff to speak with a low grunt soldier and be able to talk about things and when you can talk about things, when you can have that free flow of information and ideas, you can create. You can innovate. People aren't afraid to speak their minds. That's a huge advantage of national proportion that I think you'll find nowhere else in the world, but here."
Israel's Merkava Tank, Photo, Wikipedia
While the US provides major weapons systems to Israel, America's military also benefits from the "real life" testing of its equipment.
"Look, one of the things that the US benefits from is a) Israel is the first country that has operational F-35s today. So, now imagine Israel's flying its F-35. I mean, engaging in combat with it, whether it's in Syria or somewhere else in the region. Those lessons are then – that information is then shared with the United States Air Force," he explained.
IDF Weapons Drone, Photo, Wikipedia
Katz says while Israel has a shared friendship with America, along the way it's also had a helping hand from above.
The Hand of God
"I'm a believer myself and I think that it's no – it can't just be that it's all on its own, right? The hand of God, I think, we see here almost daily in this country, in this region. The ingenuity, the entrepreneurship, the innovation is incredible, but there's that hand behind us that is pushing us along the way," he said.
Katz agrees that weapons, technology and innovation area the centerpieces of his book, but there's more to the overall story.
"Yes, it's about weapons, but it's also a story about – it's the tale of Israel. It's a story of an ancient people that returned to their historic homeland and against all odds, not just survived, but persevered. And that is the story of the State of Israel. That's the essence of the State of Israel."