Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Due to the recent events in Connecticut and Colorado, like many of you, I’ve been searching for answers on what can be done to prevent these kind of incidents from occurring. While this article is not meant to detract from what we see time and time again, lack of a means of defense against these threats, I reached out to frequent contributor and former IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldier Uri Fridman for his thoughts on this.
This article was written by Uri and comes from his perspective as a now US citizen who works as an information security consultant. I’ve been very interested in the Israeli model after their procedures for handling airport security have started to become implemented at Boston Logan International Airport. Please join me in welcoming Uri back with his perspective on these recent events.
The recent Colorado and Connecticut shootings unfortunately show that with all the trust that comes from having the wonderful freedom we enjoy in this country, comes the ugly side of people too.
Having lived in Israel for two decades and serving in the IDF for half that time, offers me the opportunity to describe to you today how Israel protects its schools, malls and all public places from that ugly side.
Israel lives under the constant threat of suicide bombers. Terrorists coming from the West Bank and Gaza try all the time to get in a school, bus, or cafe and blow themselves up while taking women and children with them. Schools are a particular touchy subject in Israel. During the 60s and 70s, there were cases where terrorists from Lebanon infiltrated the border, entered a school and massacred the children and teachers. But Israel learned.
Today the security in and around learning institutions, from kindergarden to universities, is as good and in some cases better than the security of their government sites. These are defenseless children, these are students and teachers, these are the next generation of doctors, engineers and artists. It is imperative to protect them.
All public sites have an armed security guard posted in the entrance. The guards are trained, sometimes undergoing counterterrorism and profiling training as well. They know what to look for. They are aware of their surroundings. These guards check each and every person entering the offices, cafes and malls. They make people open their bags and in many cases they wave a portable metal detector around the person. People with guns (in Israel soldiers carry their rifles and other weapons with them at all times and having a civilian weapon permit means open carry) are required to present their soldier’s ID or weapons permit prior to being checked. If they don’t have it with them, then the police are called immediately and the offender might be held at gun point while it gets sorted out.
At schools, the security is all this and more. The school perimeter is secured with fences and a roving patrol. All the doors are guarded by a security guard and universities also have metal detectors. Any person without a student ID is doubled checked. No one is allowed inside a kindergarden or elementary school without a security guard or at least a trained member of the school staff accompanying the person.
Photo for illustrative purposes only, more info below.
This bring me to the next subject: the school staff. In Israel, everyone serves in the military. At least three years for the men and two for women. While not everyone serves on a combat unit, they all go through basic training. This includes weapons and firearms training; everyone knows how to shoot and handle firearms. When teachers take students for a field trip, they’re given a rifle to take with them. Often, they’re also accompanied by security personnel with a rifle, pistol and a standard medical kit. You don’t take any chances. Let me say it again, you DO NOT take any chances.
Now, Israel is a safe place, you can walk anywhere at any given time of the day or night. The problem we are trying to prevent there is terrorism.
The Israeli Model
Israel’s model is not a reaction-based model like the one in the US. The US reacts to threats after they’ve happened and implements mitigating controls. This works up to a point. Israel, on the other hand, invests a lot of resources on threat modeling, understanding their enemies, how they think, what might they do, what could the next attack look like and analyzes all possible ways to stop or deter them before they happen.
A good example of this is the airport security model. No, you don’t have to take off your shoes. No, you don’t have to throw away that water bottle. No, there isn’t a porn scanner.
Layers of Israeli Airport Security
Israel airport security is a preventive one and implemented in layers:
1st layer: The airport perimeter. Your car is stopped before entering the airport and an armed and trained (usually a former Special Operations member) will ask you a simple question. Based on different factors, or your answer, they might make you pull to the side for a car check.
2nd layer: Inside the airport (but outside the terminal.) Once you’re inside the airport, there are people randomly walking while checking everyone constantly. You don’t see them. Occasionally, they might stop you when you’re parked at the departure terminal or while you’re walking from the parking lot. Again, based on what you answer is to their questions, or some other factors, you might be pulled aside for further checking.
3rd layer: The check-in. Before you get to the check-in counter, (if you need to check-in) or go the security checkpoint (if you are like me and never check luggage), there is a person checking your ID and boarding pass while asking you three questions. This person is trained. Based on your responses, you may be subjected to further questioning. All the while, there’s a person walking around the line of people “sniffing” the luggage with a special device that detects explosives and other substances. Once you’re cleared, you put your bags through a scanner and head to your check-in desk. If something isn’t kosher, they’ll check you again.
By they time you get to the passport control or the security check point, you’re pretty much done. It’s just a trip through the metal detector and onto your plane.
Does it take longer this way? Not by much. Israeli airports and airlines are the safest in the world. All it takes is to simply think things through. Without getting into the politics of the TSA and whether their methods work or not, (or if they can afford to train their employees properly) the Israeli method can be applied successfully in the US.
No, it doesn’t matter if the airports are larger. Nor does it matter that many more people fly in and out of the US. The system can be easily scaled. All it takes is the removal of some political correctness non-sense and for the lobbyist companies to understand that the security of the passengers comes first.
Before I close I wanted to mention something about firearms from my perspective. I am all for firearms, I believe they are great defensive tools and people should be able to get firearms if they so choose to. However, there are a few things that need to be changed in my opinion.
First, firearms are inherently dangerous and as such people applying for a permit must have proper training. In Israel there are a few rules and regulations that apply to people with a firearm permit. You can apply, but in order to obtain it you have to go through two courses: firearms handling and tactical shooting. This was done in order to prevent untrained people from openly shooting terrorists and hitting civilians. Also to properly understand what a firearm can do; hurt people.
Second, people should be checked. In Israel you have to pass a phycological check before getting your permit. And again, a permit means you can openly carry your firearm. This is to prevent mentally unstable people from committing exactly what the murderer in Connecticut did, although those weren’t his firearms.
Third, you should BE ACCOUNTABLE for your gun. If your nephew, friend, coworker, whoever, steals your gun and goes on a killing spree because you FAILED to properly secure your gun, you should go to jail. Simple. In Israel, the law requires that if you’re not carrying the gun on you in your home, the weapon MUST be locked under two locks: the house lock and a safe inside the house. If your firearm is stolen and the police discovered that you were negligent about securing it, you go to jail for 7 years. Simple.
I believe that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. We need to start doing something about this as part of stopping these senseless acts from happening again and keeping our kids safe. Please stay safe, be aware of your surroundings and report suspicious acts or objects when you see them.
Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Uri Fridman is a contributor on ITS Tactical and currently a senior information security consultant that specializes in detection of information security threats and response to security incidents. His background includes extensive experience in red team activities and management, information warfare, counter cyber-terrorism, industrial espionage, forensics analysis and other security services.
The photo above is provided to illustrate Uri’s point about a teacher being issued a rifle when accompanying students outside of the school and as he mentioned, could also include an armed guard with a medical kit. We’ve been trying to track down more information surrounding this photo, with no luck. If you have any additional information on the backstory of this photo, we’d like to hear about it. We realize there’s some that are disputing that a teacher would ever carry a firearm in Israel, but we’re going with the author, someone who’s served in the IDF.
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