Ben-Gurion Airport claimed this morning that airport security's handling of Monday's incident in which a stolen truck driven by two Palestinians breached the security barrier, was effective, but security specialists are raising difficult questions about the version of the affairs presented at the airport Tuesday. "Why did security not stop the struck right away? How did the truck reach so close to terminal 3? Would firing towards the wheels stop a potential terrorist from pulling the trigger?" These are some of the questions being raised.
The truck breached the initial circle and security there should have acted," said Dr. Zeev Gefen, administrative director of The Israeli College for Security and Investigations. "Anyone who passes airport gates can clearly see armed security. The response should have been given by them immediately. As it seems, they did not follow regulations."
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Ben-Gurion Airport follows a cyclical security system, the head of passenger security at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport, Zohar Gefen, explained Tuesday. This system is common in many facilities in Israel and in the Western world. According to this system, each security circle stands on its own if it is breached.
Incident at airport
"What we want is to give depth to the sensitive facility," said Dr. Gefen. "Some of the circles are operated by security officers and some by technological means. Each independent circle is like a chain: when one link breaks, the chain will tear."
Ben-Gurion Airport employs numerous security elements. The nearer to terminal territory, the more strict security is. From outside moving inwards, among others, these circles exist: security cameras and patrols, vehicle checkpoints, driver questioning by security staff, armed security men whose job it is to prevent vehicles from entering the terminal, and a security vehicle ready to pursue any breach of security.
Around the terminal entrance, more security circles exist: uniformed and undercover security officers who perform patrols, security officers who check luggage, and even physical security checks for any visitor raising security's suspicions.
"Although there isn't a report yet, I think security should have been more aggressive," said Dr. Gefen. "The truck should have been stopped by gate security or at least by the security vehicle. If the truck had explosives in it, a disaster would have happened.
Major General (ret.) Arik Yakuel, a fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, is pleased with airport security's response. "At the end of the day, it's a matter of cost," he said. "The possibility of a car breaching the main entrance is a likely scenario within the mass of considerations. The fact that the truck was eventually stopped by security is a success."
Yakuel stresses that firing at the truck's wheels is part of a reasonable security response. "If it was a lost driver and he had been shot to death, we'd be asking why they didn't fire at the wheels first," He said, adding, "The airport is visited by thousands of citizens every day. If it were a military or security facility, I'd expect a harsher response."
Both specialists stressed that Ben Gurion Airport employs the most advanced security system in Israel, and similar systems are based upon it worldwide.
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