This year’s Israel Defense Prize was awarded to the soldiers who exposed and neutralized tunnels Hezbollah had dug under Israel’s northern border; Mossad personnel involved in the Iranian nuclear archive operation in Tehran; the developers of the Spice 1000 weapons system; and the developers of a cyber-project for Israel’s Shin Bet security agency that has prevented numerous terrorist attacks.

The prize, named after Haganah commander Eliyahu Golomb, is awarded for projects and actions that make a special contribution to the defense of the nation and to protecting its advantages on the battlefield.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Defense Ministry Director General Maj. Gen. (res.) Udi Adam conferred the prizes at a ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening.

This year, 16 nominees for the prestigious award were submitted to the prize committee, which is headed by Professor Shaul Horev of Haifa University. Because of the quantity and quality of the nominees, the committee decided to grant the award to four projects rather than the usual three.

The details of the Tehran operation, in which tens of thousands of documents and pictures detailing Iran’s nuclear program were taken out of Tehran and brought to Israel, as well as “Operation Northern Star” to locate and destroy Hezbollah tunnels in northern Israel, have been extensively reported on.

The Spice 1000 project, a joint project by the Israel Air Force, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Elbit Systems and the Defense Ministry’s acquisitions department, is an electro-optic weapons system that is expected to provide the IAF with new operational abilities.

The Shin Bet project entailed the development and launch of new capabilities for the agency in the fields of data mining to identify hostile activities and thwart threats to the nation’s security. In the past two years, the technologies developed as part of the project, integrated with the Shin Bet’s existing capabilities, helped thwart dozens of terrorist plots and led to the arrest of hundreds of would-be terrorists, as well as preventing several major terrorist attacks.

Lt. Col. M. accepted the prize on behalf of all the recipients. M. said in his speech that “the ability to overcome challenges lies in the work of the many people who work day and night in intelligence research; on developing unique technological capabilities; scientific research; and on implementing the developments in the field. The combination of creativity, leadership, work around the clock, focus, and goal-setting are the secrets to our success.”

Shin Bet director Nadav Argaman spoke at the ceremony and said that his organization’s “secret weapon is the personnel that make it up.”

David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, originated the idea of the Israel Defense Prize to recognize the personal contributions of people who were helping develop defenses for the State of Israel. Thus far, more than 1,000 individuals have been awarded the prize for their work on 180 defense and security projects.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.