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Why Tel Aviv airport is safest in the world

Last updated: 03 February, 2011
By D V Guruprasad 21:34 IST

The recent suicide bomb attack at Moscows Domodedovo airport has brought into sharp focus the lax security measures at various airports. If all airports follow the security measures taken by Ben Gurion Airport Authority in Israel, such an event could be avoided.

Ben Gurion airport in Tel-Aviv follows a multiple ring security. Passengers flowing into Israel are subjected to security check even at the airport of their departure by the Israeli security. For example, if a passenger is travelling to Israel from Qatar, at Doha itself Israeli security personnel interview the passenger at check-in counters and only if satisfied, the airline is allowed to issue boarding card.

Israeli agents also check the passenger’s baggage after its checking by Doha airport security. They frisk the passenger and check his hand baggage along with Doha staff at the security gate. Even if a little suspicion is aroused, the passenger is not allowed to board the aircraft whose destination is Tel-Aviv. Unaccompanied cargo carried by the aircraft to Israel is also subjected to a thorough examination by the Israeli agents.

The passengers who depart from Ben Gurion airport go through several layers of security. Three km from the entrance to the airport, all vehicles and personnel are subjected to check. The vehicle number plates are read and compared electronically with the data base of stolen vehicles and drivers’ photographs are automatically verified and the passengers’ documents are checked.

At the terminal building, as soon as a passenger alights various cameras scan him and at the control room his movements are monitored. As the passenger enters into the terminal building, he is met by Israeli security agents.

His name is first verified and if any suspicion exists, the passenger is thoroughly interrogated. His passport is verified and the passenger is interviewed for about 5-10 minutes. Only if the security agent is convinced, a sticker is put on the passenger’s passport. His baggage is put through X-ray and once the baggage is cleared, a security tag is put. If the tags put by the security agency are not present, no boarding pass is issued. After this, the passenger goes to immigration counter where he is questioned again.

The passenger then goes through customs check and later proceeds to security check where he and his hand baggage are subjected to thorough check. At the boarding gate too a final check is made.

If any bag is left unattended even for a minute, an alert is sounded at the control room and within minutes, security personnel remove the baggage and scrutinise the same. Robots are used for this.

The perimeter wall of the airport is subjected to 24x7 checks. Apart from cameras, a number of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are pressed into service and these drones detect terror and other threats. The UAVs have cameras, radar, and communication equipment. Unmanned Ground vehicles (Robots) are also in operation. Foot patrol, mobile patrol and dogs patrol are carried out along the perimetre day in and day out. In fact, the Israeli security personnel say that more than the main entrance, the service entrance and the perimeter walls pose greater risk.

What is significant is that less than 300 security personnel work at the Ben Gurion airport. They work in three shifts. The moment a security person reports for work, he is completely given a briefing about the happenings in the past 24 hours and told what he should look for and how he should react.

Because of such effective use of technology and manpower, Ben Gurion airport is spoken of as the ultimate in security. No doubt Russian President Medvedev suggested Israeli type security in his country adding that a better check of passengers and baggage is the only way to avoid attacks on airports.

(The writer is DGP, CID, Karnataka)

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