From gas masks to anthrax drugs, demand for Israeli security products and expertise has jumped in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States.
Israel's Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Tuesday that a surge of demand from the United States soon continued from Europe and Asia.
"The world has changed. People used to think terrorism was local to Madrid and Israel," said Max Livnat, senior director of the ministry's Investments and Promotion Center. "Now the whole world feels threatened."
Livnat said he has been deluged by phone calls from companies trying to contact the 100-plus Israeli suppliers of gas masks, defense-related hi-tech and biotechnology firms, and security training centers.
"Israel may be the country with the most expertise over the past few decades in developing technology and training people," Livnat said.
Erella Shwartz, research and development manager at Shalon Chemical Industries, said the firm has moved to a 24-hour production cycle to meet the demand for gas masks and other products to provide protection in the event of nuclear, biological or chemical attacks.
"We have to supply hundreds of thousands of masks, and we are getting inquiries from the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan," Shwartz said. "But we cannot supply all the demand right now."
Shalon Chemical is boosting Israeli employment at its factory to 600 from the current 125 over the next month, and the company is negotiating to open a manufacturing plant in the United States.
Magal Security Systems (NASDAQ, TASE: MAGS), which makes outdoor perimeter security fences, said it expects sales to soar in 2002 from an estimated $40 million in 2001. "We believe the orders and supply will be in the second half of 2002," Magal chairman J. Even-Ezra said. "Our products are not something you buy over the counter."
Information security also is in high demand with the increased threat of hackers and viruses, according to computer and network security startup Aliroo.
Its chief executive Meir Zorea said October was the company's best-ever month, with sales growth of 30%.