Can U.S. Learn from Israel on Airport Security?

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Since the failed Christmas Day plot to blow up a Northwest airliner exposed holes in U.S. airport security, many are looking to Israel for the best methods to protect against terror attacks.

While safe air travel is essential for the modern world, for Israel it's a national priority.

Nearly 11 million travelers pass through Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport each year. Despite the high volume of traffic, it's considered one of the safest airports in the world.

"Airport security is very good," one passenger told CBN News. "I'm very happy with it and I feel safe flying in and out of Israel."

"It's a bit slow, but you know you're safe," another passenger said. "They're not taking any chances and I like that."

Israel's Method

"The Israelis have been challenged in air terrorist attacks since the 60s and the 70s and the 80s," Boaz Ganor, executive director of The Institute for Counter Terrorism in Israel, said.

He explained one method that makes Israeli security so effective: Questioning the passengers.

"In that case the Israelis rely a lot on the impression of the security personnel that is asking some kind of simple question the passenger," Ganor said. "Questions like 'Did you pack your baggage alone?' 'Did you get something from somebody to transfer?'"

"They ask a lot of questions in comparison to other places," one passenger said. "But it's questions, you know, not difficult questions. And if you don't have something to hide, it's not a problem at all."

These simple questions and personal interaction allow the security officials to judge the passenger's behavior.

Israeli security also includes a person's background in the evaluation. Ganor believes this focus on people should be a bigger part of the U.S. security system along with a dose of common sense.

"What the Americans need is more awareness and more smart... of referring to this threat of international terrorism," he said.

"When I see the way that an old American lady 85 years old is being checked and a youngster who's coming from a Muslim country with a one way ticket - and this is even either parallel or sometimes they pay more attention to this old lady -- I'm saying something is wrong here," he said.

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CBN News
Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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