Isn’t this a little premature?

by Maskil on August 17, 2007

According to a recent Breaking News Report on the JTA website (Israel dumping bus guards):

Israel reportedly plans to do away with guards for its public buses.

Ma’ariv reported Thursday that because of the radical reduction in Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel over the past two years, the government plans to disband its public-transportation guard unit by Sept. 1.

The Transportation Ministry had no immediate comment on the report, which prompted an outcry from the Egged bus cooperative given ongoing efforts by Palestinian terrorists to enter Israel from the West Bank and carry out attacks.

Israel credits its security fence and other counter-measures for the recently improved security.

I would like to think that they know best, but isn’t this just a little premature? Rather than totally disbanding the unit , would it not be better to rather scale down its operations, while still retaining the capacity to act in need? In addition, is this even something that should be publicly announced? My suggestion would be to retain guards on the more vulnerable routes, as well as posting them randomly on other routes.

Perhaps we should even be considering the introduction of a Transit Police force, such as those in many western countries, states or metropolitan areas? Maybe not a force in its own right, but a division of the Israeli Police or Border Police? It would need to perform the dual roles of crime prevention/investigation, as as well as the current “sky marshall” role.

In South Africa, a separate Railway Police existed until it was merged with the South African Police (SAP) in the mid-80s. The “stasie blompotte” (station flowerpots) were once a familiar and reassuring sight on the country’s transport infrastructure. Twenty years on, a railway policing unit has now been reintroduced in this country!

Israel dumping bus guards

Update

The story was also reported on by the Jerusalem Post, who said:

The public transportation security unit, established during the second Intifada in order to prevent suicide terror attacks against Israeli buses, will be shut down due to the sharp decline in such attacks in recent years, Maariv reported on Thursday.

According to the report, a number of days ago commanding officers in the unit were given notice and were apprised of the decision to put an end to their activities as of September 1.

The report said sources in the Transportation Ministry attributed the closedown to the Finance Ministry, which reportedly cited the program’s cost as the grounds for its termination. Bus companies such as Egged, as well as Israel Police, expressed their opposition to the shutdown of a unit that has been commended for its excellence in preventing attacks and generating deterrence amongst terror groups.

To me, this is like clinging to a ledge and saying “well, we’ve been here a while and we haven’t fallen yet, so I guess it’s OK to let go…”.

Bus security guards given notice

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