Ruth Geva,
Head, Information Services and
International Relations Divn.,
Ministry of Police


The unique problems that the State of Israel faces with regard to terrorism have led to the creation of an integrated national strategy for fighting terror and for limiting the damage and injury that terror can wreak.

No democratic society can depend solely on its army or police force to provide citizens comprehensive protection. They must therefore rely on a variety of approaches and tactics and develop an integrated strategy against criminal and terrorist activity. The effectiveness of such a strategy requires six basic components:

1. Encouragement of voluntary action on the part of the population in self-defense and crime prevention.

2. Legislation permitting the upgrading of the physical protection accorded to public installations and establishments of national importance and providing for suitable compulsory training for persons directing the protection of such installations.

3. The setting up of rapid-deployment tactical emergency forces with the logistic capability of dealing with all likely contingencies.

4. Developing effective instruments and techniques that can be used for investigation as well as for coping with emergencies.

5. Coordination of all national efforts in the battle against crime and terrorism.

6. Cultivation of international cooperation in prevention and the exchange of expertise and experience.

Volunteer Action: Israel’s Civil Guard

On May 15th 1974, terrorists carried out an operation in the northern town of Ma’alot, close to the Israel-Lebanese border. The terrorist attack, which killed and injured schoolchildren, spurred citizens to become more closely involved in maintaining the country’s security. The very night after the Ma’alot tragedy, volunteers began to patrol the streets of their neighborhoods, especially in the towns of the north. Public pressure urged the government to set up an organization of volunteers to protect the country’s streets.

Five days after the Ma’alot incident, in the context of its discussions on improving measures against the terrorist threat to Israeli communities, the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Security Matters voted to appoint a small, high-level sub-committee with the brief of setting up a civilian agency to serve the needs of internal security. Represented on the sub-committee were the Ministries of Police, Finance and the Interior, the Personnel Division of the Army, and the Attorney- General’s Office.

On June 9th, 1974 the government approved the establishment of the Civil Guard, declaring, inter alia:

It is the intention of the government of Israel to establish a civilian agency that shall take an active role in the maintenance of security within Israel’s borders.

In principle, the Civil Guard shall … be a civilian agency based on the recruitment of volunteer personnel; however, the agency shall also include personnel who have been conscripted for the purpose, in accordance with the proposed Emergency Measures Regulations.

Public Reaction to the Civil Guard’s Establishment The response of the public to the government’s decision was impressive. In some towns, the municipality quickly passed by-laws requiring local citizens to participate in security maintenance operations and designating which category of citizen would be obliged to serve and in what capacity

patrolling, running local bases, etc. The intention was that the municipal authority would enforce these by-laws and that the Civil Guard would screen and assign volunteers.

The main emphasis at first was on recruitment and training. Volunteers were given extensive training in the use of firearms. Existing firing ranges were adapted and new ranges were built. Each recruit, male and female, was issued a special identity card.

By the end of 1974, some 60,000 volunteers had been recruited, in addition to the volunteers already under the command of the Border Guard of the Israel National Police (INP) in rural areas and to 6,000 11th and 12th grade students. About 300 bases were set up and all posts in the Civil Guard’s command structure were filled. The response went far beyond the initial recruitment anticipated of no more than 10,000. Nevertheless, the first volunteer groups set off on their mobile and foot patrols without the back-up of a solid, logistical infrastructure and without even the most basic of equipment. The Civil Defense Corps of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the INP both lent valuable help.

Organization In 1975, the government decided to transfer all responsibility for the internal security of the country from the IDF to the INP. This brought the Civil Guard under the INP’s jurisdiction and the volunteers became members of a "special constabulary" accorded the authority of policemen while on duty. By the end of 1978, there were 92,000 active volunteers operating out of 447 neighborhood bases around the country.

These neighborhood bases have charge of recruiting, training and mobilizing volunteers and also serve as a monitoring, reporting and firearms-supply center for the neighborhood. The base has to conduct multi-faceted information campaigns and try to identify suitable candidates for recruitment. It arranges lectures and provides training in firearms use and other relevant topics, prepares operational plans for emergencies, organizes duty rosters and patrols (foot and motorized) and maintains detailed records of equipment and activities.

By the end of 1989, the number of volunteers had fallen to 45,000. Some belonged to "special units" that worked with the INP in crime prevention and on routine law enforcement assignments but also contributed one night per month to patrolling their own neighborhood.


Legislation Related to the Civil Guard In February 1975, the Israel National Police Act was amended to endow the Civil Guard with formal legislative status in place of the emergency regulations issued by the Minister of Police in 1974. The Municipal Authorities Act and the Local Authorities Ordinance were amended to make every local authority responsible for setting up a local security advisory board to provide consultancy services to the local Civil Guard commander and the municipality concerning Civil Guard matters. The amendment also made local authorities responsible for all funding and for ensuring full cooperation with the local police, and required them to furnish assistance in volunteer recruitment, in registration and administration, to allocate appropriate physical facilities for the local units’ operations and to help maintain regular contact with volunteers.

The legal basis for the Civil Guard’s existence and operations today is Section 49 of the Israel National Police Act of 1978 and the 1988 Amendment to the Act. The Civil Guard’s duties are clearly defined:

1. To assist in the prevention of terrorist actions in communities within Israel’s borders;

2. To organize local neighborhoods for effective and rapid emergency operations in the event of terrorist attack;

3. To assist in the defense of the home front in the event of general conscription of military reserves or in the event of war.

In 1989, new police regulations concerning the Civil Guard went into effect, in conformity with the 1988 Amendment to the Act. The Amendment permits the police to employ the services of the Civil Guard in all police operations to protect citizens and their property and to maintain internal security. The specific areas for which police may request the the Civil Guard’s aid include patrolling, traffic control, criminal investigation, marine patrolling, tourist support services, rescue of injured persons or persons in emergency situations, bomb detection work, and others.

Secured Institutions

Israeli legislation makes special provision for what are termed "secured institutions", namely public institutions of national importance granted special protection against criminal and/or terrorist action.

The Security Section in the Operations Department of the INP is required by law to provide the following services to "secured institutions":

* to screen, train and give guidance to their security personnel
* to produce and distribute procedures to be observed by their administrative and security personnel
* to forward intelligence data, professional guidelines and weekly intelligence reports to their security personnel
* to provide professional supervision and monitoring of their security arrangements and installations

Today, there are hundreds of such "secured institutions", classified with a rating of ‘high security’ to ‘lower security’.

Security and the Licensing of Businesses

Israeli legislation has equipped the police with the legal basis for the carrying out of anti-terror and anti-crime measures. The Commercial Licensing Act of 1968 makes the grant of a commercial license to some 60 categories of businesses conditional upon the fulfillment of requirements set by the police, requirements which pertain not only to the physical security arrangements but also to the activities and behavior of owners and employees.

The requirements vary with the category of the business, its size and the degree and nature of the danger to which it is exposed. The demands that must be met before a license will be granted are concerned with the following matters:

* Prevention of terrorist actions by the observance of rigorous security procedures and the installation of security equipment;
* Non-employment of criminals by means of security vettings of all persons requesting licenses;
* Prevention of criminal activity by special physical arrangements and the installation of electronic and other equipment, such as alarms, vaults etc.

There are 19,000 such licensed premises in Israel. Police carry out annual random checks to ensure that regulations continue to be observed by the licensees.

Legislation on the Protection of Educational Facilities Because of the constant threat of terrorist action, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed in 1974 the Act for the Extension of Emergency Regulations/Securing of Educational Facilities. The Act empowers the Minister of Education and Culture to require the security arrangements for different types of educational facilities to be increased from kindergartens and elementary schools to summer camps and universities. He is authorized, for instance, to require of staff and students at a given facility, and also of the parents of its students, that they periodically perform guard duty and thus ensure a continuous watch.

Today the guarding of most educational facilities is carried out by commercial security firms. Their guards receive two days of instruction and training primarily on the use of firearms and on security procedures, and only employees so prepared are permitted to stand guard. As for kindergartens, all are properly fenced, each has a alarm button linking it electronically to the local municipality’s General Emergency Center and all persons entering are checked.

Before the facility is opened to its public, the parent or teacher on duty must inspect the grounds to make sure that no explosive device has been placed. However, the main task of the parent/teacher is not to act as an armed guard It should be pointed out that the Act was passed as a direct response to the terrorist attack on the school in Ma’alot, in the wake of which parents throughout the country willingly undertook the task of mounting an auxiliary guard on their children’s school or kindergarten.

Parents performing such guard duty must be released by their employer from their job obligations, with no deduction from salary during the period of guard duty which, the Act states, may not exceed seven hours a month.

Rapid Deployment of Anti-Terrorist Forces

In order to deal effectively with terrorism, Israel relies on three types of anti-terrorist force, all of which are components of the INP: the Bomb Disposal Unit, the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit, and the Civil Guard’s Emergency Units.

The Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU)

Established in 1975, the BDU operates in all parts of the country against all sabotage actions whether of terrorists or criminals. Its central function is to prevent injury to persons and property from the detonation of explosive devices.

In addition, its activity is intended to have a psychological impact on the populace, to bolster the citizens’ sense of personal security.

The BDU’s Bomb Disposal Experts (BDES) man a 24-hour-a-day rotation and are on constant alert. The Unit’s Rapid Effective Response approach means that BDU personnel examine and neutralize where necessary thousands of actual and suspected explosive devices or booby-trapped vehicles each year, on average 120,000 a year. They perform preventive functions too, regularly combing bus terminals, railroad stations, airports and other areas of mass pedestrian thoroughfare. BDU platoons organize public instruction programs, including bomb evacuation drills at schools and other public facilities. The Unit also runs an information campaign of TV public service broadcasts designed to raise and sustain the level of security awareness and alertness of Israeli citizens.

The Border Guard’s Special Anti-Terrorism Unit

The Border Guard

With units spread throughout the country, the Border Guard, in conjunction with the IDF, carries out a range of ongoing security-related assignments.

The Guard is the INP’s chief task force for dealing with internal security, maintenance of public order and law enforcement assistance to other police units. To these was added the responsibility for safeguarding rural communities and for protecting vital national installations and facilities.

Border Guard personnel are a mix of young conscripts on their compulsory period of military service and older, more experienced police officers, a mix that is the key to the Guard’s effective and professional performance in complex situations where experience is vital.

The Special Anti-Terrorism Unit (SATU)

The SATU was set up in 1973, as a tactical wing of the Border Guard, to carry out special assignments. As stated above, the Government of Israel reacted to a series of grave terrorist incidents by transferring the responsibility for dealing with terrorist actions within the country’s borders to the INP. The functions of the SATU, as an autonomous anti-terrorist task force, were defined within this expanded jurisdiction of the INP.

The SATU goes into action whenever a terrorist action occurs, particularly when hostage-taking is involved. Its effectiveness stems from two factors

rapid deployment and a very high level of professionalism which are fostered by specialized screening of applicants, extensive training and the encouragement of "spur of the moment", improvisatory thinking in unexpected situations. Training is based on weapons and equipment that have been specially adapted to SATU operational tactics, some of these adaptations being the fruit of the SATU’s own R&D efforts. Constant collaboration in training and exchange of information between counterpart anti-terrorist units around the world also leads to the constant upgrading of techniques.

The Civil Guard’s Emergency Units

Although it is a volunteer force, the Civil Guard forms an important part of Israel’s rapid deployment, anti-terrorist network and this ability to put its forces in the field effectively, speedily and at short notice is maintained by frequent and extended exercises, the distribution of emergency volunteer deployment units around the country and the issuing of firearms to certain volunteer members to be kept at home. Additional weapons are distributed among institutions, offices and factories for use in crises.

When an emergency situation arises, Civil Guard forces are reinforced, emergency units are placed in a state of readiness, roadblocks are set up, etc. In the event of terrorist action or a mass disaster, all Civil Guard personnel are mobilized and security forces in the region concerned are reinforced.

Sharpshooter Units: the Civil Guard’s first sharpshooter units were composed from champion, competition sharpshooters, experienced field instructors, army professionals, international sharpshooting judges and skilled amateurs. They serve as reliable scouts, report on activities in the field during an operation, and are prepared to use firearms during an operation on the instructions of the field commander.

Night-Time Emergency Units: these units, which form an integral component of neighborhood Civil Guard forces set up roadblocks, close off areas and perform crowd control functions during emergencies.

The Development of Effective Anti-Terror Instruments, Equipment and Techniques

An important aspect of Israel’s anti-terror effort is the development of instruments, equipment and techniques for preventing terrorist actions, for dealing with them when they occur and for investigating the circumstances and suspects after an action has taken place or been attempted.

The Division of Identification and Forensic Science (DIFS) of the INP has exploited its skills and resources to design sophisticated laboratory and field tests.

Diagnostic Field Tests

The DIFS has designed and developed a range of techniques and methods, which do not require special scientific training, for use by scene-of-crime technicians and field investigators. The importance of field testing is its close proximity in time and place to the criminal or terrorist act. Whereas many police forces are willing to risk the chance that evidence will vanish and prefer examination by scientists under laboratory conditions, the DIFS has decided that in many instances

(particularly in the area of internal security) speed is of the essence, even if this means conducting the examination by technicians without extensive scientific training.

In conformity with this approach, special field diagnostic kits are now standard equipment in many units of the INP, the IDF and the General Security Services and have been instrumental in solving terrorism-related crimes and in screening out suspects from crowds. Many foreign law enforcement agencies have acquired these kits for their own scene-of-crime investigators.

Explosive Testing Kit

The Explosives Testing Kit is considered the simplest, cheapest and most effective means available for locating traces of explosives and identifying the type of explosive used. Law enforcement and security agencies overseas have bought it.

Ferroprint Kit for Detecting Firearms Possession

A firearm’s metal parts always leave certain traces on the hand that held it and the Ferroprint Kit can detect these traces surely and quickly. A few seconds after a suspect’s hand has been sprayed with a purple dye the form of the firearm begins to appear. In many cases, DIFS’s Ballistic Laboratories can even name the type of gun held.

Bullet-Hole Testing Kit

This is a simple but reliable chemical, investigative tool developed by the DIFS to determine whether a hole in a given surface was made by a bullet or other agent. Investigators working under field conditions can use the kit to quickly test the rim of the hole for traces of copper or lead. The pattern of the metallic traces around the hole can also be used to reconstruct the bullet’s trajectory.

Field Kit for Deciphering Illegible Serial Numbers It is often crucial to have the serial numbers of the w

eapons and vehicles used by terrorists in order to identify suspects or trace supply routes. The INP’s Materials and Tool-Marks Laboratory have developed a sophisticated technique for identifying serial numbers which terrorists/ criminals have been careful to ‘erase’. Electro-chemical corrosion patterns are used to bring up the traces of the digits originally stamped into the metal and a special field kit for doing this has also been produced. Complementing it is a database giving the location of the gunmaker’s serial number on different guns.

Special Equipment Used by the Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU)

In the early 70s it became apparent that the Bomb Disposal Unit’s equipment was inadequate to its unique working conditions and that its effectiveness and safety could be improved by developing specialized instruments.

The work of the BDEs is unique and hazardous. To provide them optimal security in the performance of their day-today duties the BDU has developed sophisticated procedures, equipment and techniques that permit the handling and neutralizing of explosive devices and booby- trapped vehicles with the minimum risk to innocent citizens, to surrounding property and to the BDEs themselves. All BDEs have at their disposal a special vehicle containing protective gear and the equipment for the remote controlled handling/neutralization of explosive devices that minimizes the time BDEs are in contact with the device.

Protective Clothing: The Israeli protective suit is unique in that its adjustable straps enable the BD expert to don either or both the parts of the suit without the help of a second person. The vest can withstand explosive forces up to that of a hand grenade.

Explosive Device Container and Mini-Robot: For the removal of a suspected explosive device (SED) from a populated area and its subsequent handling, there have been developed containers of various sizes, which can withstand explosions.

The "Bambi" mini-robot, developed in Israel, can perform the following operations: * move over difficult terrain, as well as climb and descend stairs;
* use its mechanical arms to drag an SED to a suitable location for examination and dismantling/detonation;
* use its mechanical arms and claws to handle the SED, turn it upside down, tear off its wrapping, etc.;
* Attack and neutralize an explosive device with a specially mounted short- barrelled rifle;
Bambi is highly effective, surprisingly compact and light in weight.

National Inter-Agency Cooperation

In the war on terror, Israel’s law enforcement and military agencies have come to realize how crucial it is to integrate all the activities described above and to ensure the comprehensive coordination of civilian, military and police activity. The instruments of such coordination are the national and regional Coordination Centers in which all public and official bodies involved in anti-terrorism are represented. The executive committees of the Centers convene regularly for discussions, reviews of past actions and decision-making on policy and action in response to new and forecasted developments.

Cooperation between the INP and the private security industry is also on the rise. The INP now realizes that the personnel of this growing industry

in Israel and in most other industrialized nations far outnumbers that of the police and therefore cannot be ignored. It is accepted that coordination of efforts between the police and those private companies that aspire to high standards of professionalism, training and ethics can significantly promote the security and welfare of citizens with respect both to criminal and terrorist threat. Joint committees have already been set up to discuss such issues as the establishment of industry-wide professional standards. Pilot programs of collaboration are in preparation.

International Cooperation

Israel has recently set up a data center for the ongoing collection and dissemination of information on terrorist activity around the world with the aim of building up a comprehensive picture of the actual dimensions and potential threat of terrorism. Information updates received from abroad on the plans and movements of terrorist organizations are passed onto the relevant authorities in Israel for immediate response or long-term planning.

The bases of this international cooperation are:

* Free exchange between nations of non-classified evidence used in terrorist trials.
* The international links between terrorist organizations make evidence from the trial of a terrorist in one country applicable to a trial in other countries.
* Exchanges of legal expertise and experience.

An International Anti-Terror Legal Resources Center is now in the initial stages of its establishment. It is intended to facilitate the exchange of expertise and experience and serve as a suitable vehicle for exchanges of experts and for expert-in-residence programs. The Center will collect and store all relevant materials (legal statutes, bilateral and multilateral treaties on international terrorism, court proceedings, findings and verdicts) in the form of an easily accessed database.


Terrorism poses a serious threat to the stability of all democratic societies and must, therefore, be fought with the full array and sophistication of modern instruments and techniques. However, the job cannot be delegated to the professionals, military and police, only, but must also enroll the civilian population both by means of voluntary action and of legislation to ensure effective standards of security.

In the fight against terror, each country can learn from the others. They must continue to pool information on tested techniques, methods and systems. The ongoing dialogue between those member states of the United Nations who are concerned by the specter of terrorism must continue and be reinforced. We took to the U.N. to propose and coordinate such cooperative effort.