The airport in Tel Aviv may be relatively small compared to other major hubs in Europe and the United States, but it has a reputation for having some of the tightest security around.
There has not been a terrorist attack at the airport in more than four decades, and no flight has ever been hijacked.
Israel has worked on improving and upgrading its security both on land and in the air. Security experts from around the world in the airline industry and law enforcement have been coming to Israel to learn more about its methods and strategies.
Security negligence may be a problem in many countries.
“Negligent security operates similarly to premises liability,” says injury attorney Jamine Cogburn. “The owner of commercial premises owes a duty to its guests to keep them as safe as reasonably possible.”
The security strategies at Ben Gurion airport are a prime example of how consistency, common sense and due diligence can improve the safety and security of passengers.
Before arriving at the airport, cars must pass through a security checkpoint. At the checkpoint, armed guards check the vehicle and speak with the drivers to gauge their mood. The terminal building is patrolled by officers and surveillance cameras serve as extra pairs of eyes.
Vehicles must undergo a trunk x-ray, weight sensor and undercarriage scan. Armed security personnel patrol the interior of the terminal building and engage in conversation with suspicious persons.
Before even reaching the check-in counter, passengers are questioned by security agents. Interviews can take anywhere between one minute and an hour, depending on the person’s race, age, destination and religion.
Passengers are not forced to remove their shoes or walk through any physical X-ray machines. Simple metal detectors are all that’s needed.
As for those arriving in Israel, all passengers and crew members on board are checked well in advance of landing. If a flight goes off course or does not have the proper security clearance, it is flagged immediately.
Officials estimate that there are as many as 10 flights flagged and checked each day. Seeing as Ben Gurion is the only international airport in the country, a shutdown would essentially cut off the country from the air.
Protocols and strategies are in place to handle potential terrorist attacks. The security personnel at Ben Gurion airport are army graduates with specialized training in interrogation and detection.
Areas of the airport that are not frequently used by passengers are monitored closely, and backup strategies are in place to watch for intrusions if the surveillance cameras are not working properly.
While some incidents have slipped through the cracks, the security methods employed in Israel’s airports have been highly effective at preventing attacks. And yes, the methods used are sometimes criticized.
In 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union sued for records related to the Behavior Detection and Analysis program used to target suspicious passengers. The agency says the methods are scientifically substantiated.
Some of the security measures used at Ben Gurion are not scalable to larger airports, but some principles and practices can be deployed in some hubs.