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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 November, 2003, 14:39 GMT
Israeli secret footage blunder
By James Reynolds
BBC correspondent in Jerusalem

Israel's military industry is trying to recover from a major embarrassment.

An Israeli television channel has been able to record unencrypted pictures of a secret missile test.

Israeli anti-missile battery
The secret launch was broadcast for two days
Israel is a country which guards its secrets closely, its military secrets in particular.

But now a television engineer using a standard household satellite dish has been able to watch the secret testing of a long-range artillery shell.

Some of the pictures he recorded have now been broadcast on Israeli television.

Access codes

At the start of the week the engineer, from Israel's Channel 10, was carrying out a routine scan of an Israeli commercial satellite.

He then came across live, unencrypted pictures of a busy control-room.

For the next two days the engineer and his bosses monitored and recorded the control-room pictures.

They showed the preparations for the missile test and then the launch itself, including precise information on the test site and the missile's flight.

What is more, the pictures showed senior officials in the control room talking openly, referring to defence industry computer access codes.

Israel Aircraft Industries, which carried out the test, has tried to play down what has happened, but in Israel the episode is seen as deeply embarrassing.

Many have pointed out that anyone in the Middle East with a household satellite dish could have picked up the control-room pictures, including, of course, Israel's most hated enemies.

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