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Year 2000 Problem – Israel (1/1999)


The Y2K problem is referred to also as the “Y2K Bug” or the “Millennium Bug”. Although bugs are a matter of personal taste, usage of the term “Millennium” here is somewhat misleading, since the second Millennium is to end on December 31st, 2000 and not on December 31st, 1999. Just a thought…


The “Y2K Bug” is a threat to all computer programs, even those in the most simple and trivial applications. For decades, the year was represented by two digits: 1980 is “80”, 1999 is “99” and 2000 is…

And there lies the problem: for years, “99” was the code in computer systems for “error” and “00” may not only produce negative results in calculations, but may also be completely unknown to the computer system or may be interpreted as “infinity”.

We had already experienced many difficulties accessing certain Internet servers during the first days of 1999. After checking with the home server and the destination server, the conclusion was that the somewhere along the route, one of the servers caused a problem and prevented us from accessing the destination. A simple run of the program “tracert www.DESTINATION-NAME.com” revealed that communication got stuck at around the 15th connection. This indicates how grave the problem is since we depend on external service providers. Not only our home server and destination server need to be Y2K compliant, but all 15 or more servers in between. This certainly minimizes the feasibility of overall compliancy.

Israel Government

Already back on July 7th, 1996, the government of Israel decided that the Y2K problem should be addressed. But, only in January 1998 a Y2K sub-committee, headed by MK (Member of Knesset, Israel Parliament) Prof. Alex Lubotzky, commenced functioning. The overall impression is that the problem had not been addresses adequately and seriously enough until December 1998. However, In a television interview given on January 9th, 1999 by Deputy Minister Michael Eitan, he stated that the Emergency Economy Unit is to operate during the transition from 1999 to 2000. The Emergency Economy Unit is normally to operate in cases of a military offensive actions against Israel or in other critical emergency events. This demonstrates that the government does consider the Y2K problem as a potentially acute one.

Ministry of Health

In February 1998, M.L.L. software & Computers Industries Ltd. Completed a Y2K compliancy project for the budgetary accounting system in 28 government hospitals.

Ministry of Defence

Reportedly (July 1998), all civilian systems are to be compliant by the end of 1998.

Ministry of Finance

The project commenced in September 1996. The Y2K budget in 1997 amounted to US$ 400,000 and 170 months of labor, in 1998 the budget amounted to US$ 230,000 and 104 months of labor.

Ministry of Labor & Welfare

Reportedly (May 1998), Binsoft of the Kardan Group is to conduct the project for the National Insurance Institute. The institute is to conduct two major tests in March and August, 1999.

Ministry of Transport

Reportedly (February 1998), S.P.L. WorldGroup Israel won a tender for the vehicles and drivers Licensing office. The project was reported as completed in August 1998.

Ministry of Infrastructure

S.C.H. Software Conversion House of the Formula group is to conduct the project for Israel Lands Authority.

Ministry of Tourism

Tourism in year 2000 is certainly facing a double challenge. According to the “Israel 2000 Administration” the forecast is of 4 million pilgrims arriving to Israel during the years 1999-2001.

The Knesset (Israel Parliament)

Effective July 1998, Tescom Software Systems Testing commenced analyzing the computer systems as the first stage of the Y2K project.

The Postal Authority

The IT department commenced the project that will include a nationwide network of 250 branches and 250 agencies. Expenditure in 1998 in the Y2K project amounted to US$ 1.4 million.

Israel Electric Corporation

Reportedly (May 1998) the project is to be conducted by Formula Software Services and Tadiran Information Systems using tools of Crystal Systems Solutions of the Formula Group. The Project is to amount to US$ 9 million.

Reportedly (January 1999), a strategic stock of 1.9 million tons of coal is to be accumulated in the power stations towards the transition to year 2000, enough for 2.5 months of electricity production.

Bezeq Telecommunication Corporation

According to an agreement of April 1997 the project is to be conducted by Formula Software Services and Tadiran Information Systems.

Reportedly (May 1998) Kontahal was chosen to analyze the switching and control systems.

The Airports Authority

Tadiran Information Systems and Liraz Systems are conducting the project, amounting to US$ 6 million.

Mekorot Water Company

The project commenced in 1996 and was reported as completed in July 1998. A general testing of the systems is scheduled to April 1999.

Magen David Adom in Israel

In July 1998, YAANA Systems Ltd. was chosen to conduct the project for The Blood Bank.

Small-Medium Businesses

IBM Israel announced (Mid January 1999) that it is offering small to medium businesses its support service for Y2K compliancy. The service, for Microsoft, IBM and Novell networks, is charged at US$ 24 per station.

Note: The overview is based on public announcements and publications.