Terror in Mumbai
Photo: Reuters

Can it happen here too?

In wake of India terror offensive, Alex Fishman examines nightmare scenario in Israel

Part 1


It was a dark day for Israel’s intelligence agencies; a complete collapse. It all started at 5:25 am: A group of divers appeared on Eilat’s southern shore, murdered 10 youngsters who were sleeping in tents on the beach, entered a nearby hotel, and held up dozens of hostages.


While the attention of police, the army, and emergency services was directed at Eilat, a container exploded at the Ashdod port at 5:50 am. There were no casualties in the blast, yet a nearby chemical substance depot was damaged; a large cloud of toxic gases started making its way towards the city.


Who assumes responsibility for the incident in Ashdod? The police? The army? Are the police forces dispatched to the scene protected against chemical toxins? Are the port’s security forces protected and can they seal off the site? And how quickly will the units in charge of identifying chemical toxins arrive? And when will the IDF arrive?


However, it’s not over yet, because at about the same time, at 5:55 am, a van loaded with a ton of explosives explodes in the passageway below Tel Aviv’s Shalom Tower. Part of the tower collapses. There are only dozens of people trapped in the building because of the early hour; some of them are dead or wounded.


It’s 6:05 now. The control tower at Ben Gurion Airport notices that the pilot of a plane about to land is behaving oddly. It turns out that the aircraft had been hijacked. The Air Force is dispatched, but it’s too late. At 6:07, the plane is already diving towards Tel Aviv University, which is empty at this time, yet there are dozens of casualties in the buildings nearby.


Is this a crazy scenario? Not at all. An al-Qaeda member who flew to Israel three years ago kept meticulous records of the sites he identified from the plane. It was a precise intelligence log of a terror attack combining a plane hijack and a suicide strike.


The State of Israel wakes up to a state of chaos one morning; total shock. The transportation system is paralyzed. There is no entry into the large cities. Nobody knows what will happen the next moment. Schools remain closed. People are scared to go to work. Parts of the phone system collapse. Hospitals declare an emergency state. Conflicting reports are coming in. The electricity system collapses in some locations.


However, this terrible morning isn’t over yet. At 6:30 am, a group of terrorists opens fire at Israelis at Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter.


Nothing of what is described above is a baseless scenario. Everything may end up happening. Moreover, some of these incidents almost happened already. The terror attack at the Shalom Tower in Tel Aviv, for example, was averted at the last moment.


Is the State of Israel prepared for coping with a series of simultaneous terror attacks, or will it face complete paralysis, helplessness, and chaos – as we saw in India in recent days? Do we have contingency plans for such scenarios? Are rescue forces prepared to face them?


Part 2 of article to be published Friday evening


פרסום ראשון: 11.28.08, 12:33
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