Tuesday, September 03, 2013

3-Sep-13: Speeding truck ignores security, smashes through checkpoint and fence... and no one dies in the shooting. Which airport?

UK airport security: A shoot-first-ask-questions-later mission
[Image Source]
It takes very little imagination to contemplate how badly this morning's events at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv might have ended if the security personnel were less disciplined, trained less well, and less restrained.

The facts are still not entirely clear. But the main elements of what happened in the dark of early Tuesday morning are more or less evident. The account reported by Times of Israel is a good place to start: "Palestinians in speeding truck penetrate airport security | Vehicle stopped, two men arrested; perpetrators claim they are car thieves; airport resumes normal functioning".

In thinking about how much more bloodily this night have ended, there are some aspects of this we might ponder:
  • Israel attracts terrorists on a world-class scale. Elaboration unnecessary.
  • Those acts of terror continue right up until this week. For instance, this.
  • Ben Gurion Airport knows what it means to experience terrorism on a horrifying scale
  • Airports in general are prime targets for the terrorism-minded. Securing airports is a huge industry
  • The security personnel who guard the entrances to Ben Gurion are very well-armed, and come with years of training in how to protect and, if necessary, how to permanently stop attackers.
  • Notwithstanding, there is endless criticism of how 'heavy-handed' and 'intrusive' the security at Israel's major airport can be.
This morning's penetration of Israel's major airport happened two days before the Jewish New Year, a time when relatively huge numbers of travelers pass through it checkpoints and halls. It happened in the dark, a time when even the best trained security personnel can be subject to major misunderstandings. In the circumstances, if any of the guards had itchy trigger fingers, it's difficult to envisage them being criticized by their superiors. 

With all of that, what was the outcome today? The men in the truck, two Palestinian Arabs from Jenin and Qalqilya, walked away alive, under arrest. They say they are mere car thieves - a vibrant occupation in this part of the world, and a significant part of the PA economy, and therefore a plausible alibi. But imagine other transit centers, and think about how heavily armed men, equipped with powerful rapid-action weapons, pursuing the driver and passenger in a vehicle that has just tried to break through the fence of one of the most desirable terrorism targets in the world, might have reacted. The truck-thieving losers ought to be two of the happiest men on earth at this moment, given how close they came to the premature and irreversible ending of their careers today, though that's normally how men in their social and cultural circles think. (Their mothers might be saying a quiet prayer.)

May the New Year about to begin be one of peace and contentment.

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