and the United States have signed an agreement to tighten their security cooperation in a bid to prevent airline terror on civilian planes. The new agreement includes joint exercises aimed at examining scenarios of terrorist incidents in the air.
Danny Shenar, head of security at the Transportation Ministry, told Ynet that "the agreement was formed after we established an operations center for aviation security at the security unit two years ago. The center combines all of Israel's aviation information and conducts all the analyses related to planes in the airspace."
According to Shenar, the center's activity handles 60,000 planes entering Israel every year.
"The Americans found a partner in thwarting terror, and the security cooperation has been going on for seven months now," he noted, adding that "it has proved itself on an extraordinary level in aviation security incidents which have taken place over the past year." For security reasons, Shenar refused to elaborate on those incidents.
The agreement states that in case of a plane hijacking, the two countries will share information instantly, as part of their tightened cooperation. In addition, American and Israeli teams in charge of civilian aviation security will hold meetings to plan simultaneous reactions by both countries in cases of airline terror attacks.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said that "the memo of understanding strengthens the security cooperation between Israel and the United States in any case of dealing with airline terror incidents, and it guarantees full cooperation and a continuous transfer of information between the two countries."
US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano noted that the agreement would allow her country and Israel to respond better to airline terror incidents.
On the backdrop of the new agreement, the Transportation Ministry's security unit has begun operating "Code Positive" on any civilian plane flying to Israel. The new system is programmed to warn the security unit the moment a terrorist takes over a plane headed to Israel and lays his hand on the steering wheel.
The Israeli patent was tested successfully in the past year on 4,000 small and private planes flying to Israel.
So far, the code has been installed on planes belonging to Delta Airlines, US Airways, Continental Airlines, Air Canada and Ethiopian Airlines, and the plan is to add additional international airlines gradually.
"The Americans have already shown an interest in the code we have developed, which is a first-of-its-kind Israeli patent," Shenar noted.