Israeli engineers leading the development of Iron Dome, an anti-rocket defense system, plan to donate the prize money they are about to receive to the shock victims of rocket attacks, local media reported on Sunday.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday will present eight of the engineers the prestigious Israel Security Prize, awarded annually to defense establishment personnel for ground breaking contributions to state security.
The prize winners include top engineers from the Defense Ministry's Weapons Research and Development Authority, Rafael Advanced Systems, one of the country's leading arms contractors, and the Israel Air Force.
They recently decided to donate the 40,000 shekels (9,900 U.S. dollars) that come with the prize to a center that provides psychological treatment to residents of southern Israel suffering from shock incurred during and after rocket attacks.
"The body I represent has formed a special connection with the residents of Sha'ar Hanegev," an engineer heading one development team told the Yediot Aharonot daily on Sunday, referring to a regional council bordering the Gaza Strip that has come under numerous rocket attacks in recent years.
"During the development of Iron Dome we visited Sderot (at the northern tip of Gaza) and other communities, met with their residents and heard about daily life in the area. I must say that conversation was a great motivation booster," the engineer explained.
The development of Iron Dome, a system designed to intercept short-range rockets, began in the aftermath of the 2006 conflict with Lebanon, when Hezbollah fired more than 4,000 projectiles into northern Israel.
Since coming into use in April 2011, the system has successfully shot down some 90 percent of Kassam and Katyusha-type rockets fired by militants into southern Israeli cities and communities.
Gaza militants fired more than 450 rockets at Israeli targets since the beginning of this year, already exceeding the total number fired throughout 2011, according to the Israeli army.