Israeli airport security team making LAX safer

Some 61.5 million travelers used LAX in 2005. A team of Israeli airport security officials from Ben-Gurion International Airport is in Los Angeles this week advising Los Angeles International Airport officials on ways to improve security. Nahum Liss, Hadas Levitan …

Some 61.5 million travelers used LAX in 2005. A team of Israeli airport security officials from Ben-Gurion International Airport is in Los Angeles this week advising Los Angeles International Airport officials on ways to improve security.

Nahum Liss, Hadas Levitan and Alon Browon of the B-G security authority examining the terminals, perimeter security, airfield and parking structures of LAX, and will likely make preliminary recommendations at the end of their visit.

“This is an unprecedented visit by the head of Israeli airport security to cooperate with us and help us spotlight what is needed,” Councilman Jack Weiss told the Los Angeles Daily News. Weiss chairs the City Council’s Public Safety Committee and arranged the visit by the Israeli security team.

“They sat down (Monday) with our professionals and you could almost see the sparks fly as they exchanged ideas,” he said.

LAX is one of the busiest airports in the world and considered by American security experts to be a prime location for a terror attempt. Some 61.5 million travelers used LAX in 2005, compared with 60.7 million in 2004.

Security at LAX has been studied extensively for the past four years, including a periodic review by the Rand Corp., which has found the biggest vulnerabilities are the crowds outside terminals. In the most recent incident, a gunman killed two people when he opened fire at the airport’s El Al ticket counter on July 4th, 2002.

While the Israeli security team is expected to pass on specific steps that officials at LAX can take to better secure the airport, it may not be practical to implement all the recommendations.

“You can’t copy and paste Ben-Gurion’s security into America,” Weiss told AP. “It’s a different airport, different scale, different problems. But what you can learn from (the Israelis) is the philosophy and the approach.”

The team also will review the plans for the $576 million redesign of the Tom Bradley International Terminal to ensure that state-of-the-art security is included. And
Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose 11th District includes LAX, told AP that he would like to see the Israeli advice implemented in the plans.

“Their insights will be invaluable for us. I hope that the best practices and the protocols that our partners in Israel give us will be incorporated into how we go forward with these renovations,” he told AP.

Weiss, Deputy Mayor Maurice Suh, fire Chief William Bamattre and police Cmdr. Mike Downing toured Ben-Gurion Airport during a visit to Israel in March, when they met with security officials to gain insight on airport security. During the trip, Weiss invited the Israeli security officials to inspect LAX.

According to Israeli Consul General Ehud Danoch, it’s imperative for the US and Israel to share information in their joint front against terror.

“The United States is a great ally of Israel and we always cooperate, especially now with the issue of terrorism over the past few years,” Danoch told AP. “We have many experts in counter-terrorism, and we are going to continue to share the knowledge and our experience with the United States.”