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Israel's home-grown Iron-Dome missile interceptor system: From drawing-board to deployment in only three years 
 
What would have happened if the meteor that hit Siberia in February 2013 had been hurtling towards the Middle East? Israeli scientists say they have state-of-the-art technology that could have intercepted it. While the UK is busy replicating Silicon Valley on London's Old Street roundabout, Israeli high-tech start-ups continue to propel themselves farther into the realm of science fiction. How does this innovative know-how fare in a conflict zone which continues to turn adversity into opportunity?

Israel's start-up guru, Yossi Vardi — "the godfather" as young Israeli entrepreneurs refer to him — is to Israelis today what Brunel was to the Victorians, whose appetite for exploration, innovation and making money was seemingly insatiable. This same optimism and can-do attitude have become the hallmarks of Israel's hi-tech society. 

Keren Elazari is a 32-year-old über-hacker armed with five smartphones, though in polite company she calls herself a "cyber security expert". At a tech conference in London last year, she hacked into the mobile phones of hundreds of geeks who should have known better in a stunt intended to demonstrate the devices' lack of security. 

Sitting in a hipster café in her native Tel Aviv, her brown hair tinted scarlet at the tips, Keren explains that she did not go to a special school, nor did she have a high-tech hub at her disposal when she was growing up. "I blame Angelina Jolie," she says, explaining that she was inspired by Jolie's hacking-hottie character in Hackers, a 1995 movie that depicted computer geeks as elite rebels. Armed with a PC from the age of ten and encouraged by her inventor parents, Keren trained herself through online forums, got a part-time job in a computer store and later, during her compulsory military service, talked her way into working on internet security in the Israeli army. 
 
"Do you know what Israel's most renewable source of energy is?" she asks me. "Chutzpah."

Today, she has job offers from all over the world, gives lectures in California, attends high-tech conferences in Germany and advises start-ups and the government back home. 

While the Victorians came up with the steam engine and the flushing toilet, Israel's new cyber generation has invented the Stuxnet computer virus, which reportedly infected Iran's nuclear programme, swallowable cameras that monitor your insides, and electronic super-noses  that can sniff out (though sadly not snuff out) diseases such as stomach cancer. 

Britons who emigrate to Israel quickly catch the entrepreneurial fever. "In Britain, the idea of working in a start-up didn't even enter my head," says Stefanie, 29, a recent arrival. 

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