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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 22:23 GMT 23:23 UK
Israeli airline's maximum security
El Al jumbo jet
El Al have more protection than any other airline
Barbara Plett

Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport is probably one of the most heavily guarded civilian airports in the world.

Before checking in, people are grilled by "screeners", usually young people, often two at a time.

If passengers appear suspicious a superior is called to determine whether they or their baggage should be searched.

Plain-clothes security officials also watch quietly from the side-lines as people come and go, pulling aside any who seem nervous for questioning.

El Al airliner
El Al's security measures could be model for the US

The national El Al carrier keeps its full security procedure under wraps, but according to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, measures include stronger-than-average cockpit doors and air marshals that travel on every flight.

The US sees Israeli techniques as a possible model for its own airline industry in the wake of the 11 September suicide attacks.

The Post reported that El Al security experts have testified before US congressional committees drafting an aviation security bill.

The paper said the El Al reps indicated that a gun used to be stored in every cockpit, but these were removed when armed guards joined the flights.


Ben Gurion security measures may be effective but they are also discriminatory and sometimes unpleasant.

Palestinians and their friends are subject to much stricter procedures, including body searches.

Many travellers who match set categories of suspicious persons also have tales of missed flights and harsh interrogations to tell.

Reports quoting Israeli security experts said airport measures had been tightened after the US attacks.

According to Israeli Transport Minister Ephraim Sneh the authorities re-examined security procedures after Thursday's crash and found no fault with pre-flight checks.

The BBC's Jonathan Charles in Moscow
"Body after body is brought ashore"
Volodymyr Vassylenko, Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK
denies the plane was brought down during military exercises
See also:

05 Oct 01 | Europe
Press split over Black Sea crash
05 Oct 01 | Europe
How safe is the Tu-154?
05 Oct 01 | Europe
Russia's shaky air safety record
05 Oct 01 | World Cup 2002
Fifa calls off Israel match
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