• United States



by Paul Kerstein

Going to School on the Israelis’ Experience

Aug 09, 20053 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Security experts go to school on Israel, and for good reason. TheIsraelis have as much experience as anyone in dealing with security threatsover the past four decades. El Al Airlines passengers got used to preflightsecurity interviews decades before most American travelers.  Leaders from law enforcement, transportationagencies (including New York City’s transitunion) and executive protection teams from the United States and other countriesroutinely consult Israeli police and security forces about strategies andtactics. (The International Association of Chiefs of Police, in a recenttraining bulletin about dealing with terrorist threats, cites the Israelis’work in developing a suicide bomber profile.)

Even the security teams at major American shopping malls aretaking cues from the way Israelis. The Wall Street Journal notedthat IPC International Corp., a mall security vendor, takes lessons from theIsraeli approach to shopping mall security to watch for suspicious behaviorsamong patrons, for example, those appearing to walk-off distances, or totingvideo cameras aimed in the wrong places (architecture, not people).

Israelis front and center this month with a current events case study.  The country’s planto withdraw of 9,000 of its citizens from the Gaza Strip by August 17 (thenumber of people relocating includes those in a few West Bank settlements)takes both external and internal threats into account, according to The NewYork Times. The riskmanagement effort includes physically handling the Israeli settlers who resistremoval, patrolling buffer zones between Israeli and Palestinian areas andstationing police in major cities inside Israel to clear streets ofprotesters. 

The preparations for this move are prodigious, and have beenunder way for months. Near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, the IsraeliArmy built a sprawling military base with tents for a force of 40,000 soldiersand police because the mission involves the temporary merger of military andpolice forces under a joint command, The Los Angeles Times reported. Theeffort is both low- and high-tech. As soldiers and police prepare to assemble17-member teams to remove residents house by house, technicians are setting upsoftware programs to track the evacuation in real-time, the newspaper said.

A key factor for the security forces is the wrenching,emotional turmoil wracking Israeli society over the settlement evacuations. Themilitary closed the Gazaborder this past weekend as citizens protesting the removal of settlementssought to infiltrate the Army’s security lines. An Israeli soldier who wasabsent without leave killed four Israeli Arabs on August 4 on a bus in theIsraeli Arab town of Shfaram;he in turn was killed by a mob responding to the attacks. Prime Minister ArielSharon denounced the soldier’s rampage as a terrorist attack, as did theleading spokesman for the Israeli settlers’ movement.

As part of its training, Israeli forces have gone throughrole-playing exercises where those playing protesters hurl insults and otherverbal abuse onto the soldiers, and practice passive resistance to being moved,reported the newspaper Haaretz. “Theprimary conclusion reached in this exercise, in contrast to simpler exercisesheld previously, was that evacuating an entire settlement would be a long andcomplicated task,” the newspaper said.