Skip to comments.Taking Security Seriously
Posted on 06/03/2013 4:22:01 AM PDT by servo1969
Ive been asked by several followers to share my experiences and thoughts on Israeli airport security and how it stacks up against the TSA here in the U.S.
First let me detail my experiences with Israeli security. We arrived to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv via a local taxi. The car was stopped at the gate to the airport and a security guard armed with an M4 rifle asked the driver a few questions in Hebrew. He then walked around the car and opened the rear door to ask me where I was going. I responded I was going to Chicago at which point he smiled and closed the car door.
We drove to the departures section of the terminal which resembles most any other airport Ive been to in the U.S. Our driver dropped us off, we grabbed our bags, paid the driver and headed for the door of the airport. Just outside of the door we were stopped by another security guard. At this check point we encountered a conventional walk through metal detector and a table to place our bags on for inspection. The guard asked to see our passports and asked a few questions that would be repeated several times on our journey through multiple tiers of security.
Here are a few of the questions we were asked repeatedly:
What is your name?
Where are you going?
How long have you been in Israel?
Did you meet anyone in Israel? If so, what were their names?
Where did you stay?
Has anyone given you any packages?
Who packed your bags?
Were you here for business or pleasure?
How many people are you traveling with today?
Where do you work?
The guard carefully inspected our passports. Once he was satisfied with our answers, we were allowed to proceed into the terminal.
Once inside the terminal you get into line to have your checked baggage screened before dropping it off with the airline. At the end of this line is another security guard who will ask you the same questions mentioned above and perhaps a few more based upon the answers you give. They may ask the same question twice as theyre looking for inconsistencies in your story. Occasionally a manager (for lack of a better term) will come up during the interview and ask questions or speak with the interviewer. Once you complete this phase of security a small label is attached to your checked bags. Nothing has been done with your carry on bags at this point and theyre still in your possession.
Next youll walk up to an x-ray machine with your baggage. Youll be asked to place the checked baggage on the machine while keeping your carry on bags in your possession. The x-ray operator will scan the label placed on your bag and set it inside the machine. If you have any type of electronics (camera, computer, battery charger, batteries, wires, etc.) inside of the bag you will be flagged for additional security. A screen shot of the questionable items produced by the x-ray machine will be forwarded to the next security station. Since we had electronics in our bags, we were flagged. At this point you grab your checked baggage and head over to the next security station.
At this station you will be asked to place your bag on a table. They scan the label and the image of the x-ray appears on a monitor in front of them. They will open your bag and pull everything out looking for the items highlighted by the x-ray scan. While this is happening they are asking you all of the same questions again. This time the questions will be more detailed asking for business cards of people you met with, phone numbers, receipts from hotels, letters from companies you met with saying they requested your presence, etc. Youre not required to have these documents but it probably speeds things along if you can produce them. At this point a second security guard may come up and ask you the same questions again. They will then compare notes with the other guard looking for any inconsistencies in your story. I dont know what happens if they suspect you of being dishonest with your answers, I assume youre taken to a room for interrogation. Ive heard from our hosts that if youre taken into one of these interrogation rooms you can be there for hours.
Once this phase of security is complete you can repack your bag and head over to the baggage check for your airline. Here you will drop off your checked bags and head up to the main terminal for the final tier of security.
The last security check will be to inspect you and your carry on bags. One thing I noticed at this point which I found to be very interesting they didnt use full body scanners. They only use x-ray machines for baggage and metal detectors for passengers. They may pat you down or open your bags, but they werent putting people in full body scanners like we have here in the U.S. As a matter of fact I didnt step inside a full body scanner in Warsaw, Berlin or Tel Aviv, only in the U.S.
At any point during your travels through the airport you may be pulled aside by a security guard in plain clothing and asked to present your travel documents. They will ask the same questions mentioned above. I was pulled aside by one of these agents while walking through the airport.
The security guards at Ben Gurion were true professionals. Ive been told that to be employed as a security guard at the airport in Tel Aviv you must have prior military experience. They were calm, collected, purposeful yet polite and helpful. We had more problems with employees of Polish Airlines than we did with the security at the airport. At one point a security guard intervened on our behalf to speed things along in our dealings with the airline so we wouldnt miss our flight.
The security is far more intense at Ben Gurion than at any airport Ive visited in the U.S. It takes considerably more time to navigate the multiple tiers of security in Israel than it does in the U.S. but this is understandable given the unique challenges the Israelis face things I hope well never have to face here in the U.S. I will say that our security in the States pales by comparison to the Israeli security in terms of how thorough they are. The question then becomes, do we need the same level of security here in the U.S.? At this time I dont believe we do, however I do believe our own TSA could learn a thing or two from the Israelis.
That will never work here in the US. It is discriminatory donchano. Got to have a few unemployed, people of color, a few thugs, a sprinkling of white guys, of course women, etc. Then again, almost everybody in Israel has military service. Umm what a concept.
Interesting. What percentage of the security personnel were women?
Since almost everyone has to serve between 2 and 3 years in the military there it shouldn’t be hard to find employees.
Those type of questions, should they be asked in the United States, would not be for the safety and security of the travelers; but rather, to weed out the conservatives from the liberals - all answers certainly being stored in a White House database and forwarded to the friendly I.R.S. agents waiting to serve.
No thanks, if I can’t drive to my destination - I’m not going.