If Malaysia, Like Other Nations, Had Turned to Israel for Aviation Security Expertise — Would the Missing Airliner Have Vanished?

Whatever happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 — which vanished on March 8 — here’s a fair question: Could it have happened to El Al Israel Airlines?

Are the Israelis more careful?  Could a murderous pilot or co-pilot have been blocked?  Would an Israeli simply disappear from radar screens, never to be heard from again?  Would all passengers have been screened much more rigorously?

Yossi Melman, co-author of Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars, wrote this article for the website of the 24-hour TV news channel based in Israel, i24news.tv.  He reveals that while many nations have benefited from Israeli expertise — in the area of aviation security — Malaysia refused to have anything to do with Israel.

– – –

Would It Have Vanished, in an Israel-type System?

Would It Have Vanished, in an Israel-type System?

Anti-Israel rhetoric has not prevented some Arab and Muslim countries from maintaining clandestine ties with the Jewish state, especially in the field of security and intelligence. Not just Arab and Muslim nations which do, or did, have some sort of open and diplomatic relations with Israel, like Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Morocco or Mauritania. This applies also to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, and at least two countries in Southeast Asia – Indonesia, which is the biggest Muslim country in the world, and Pakistan. Israel has or had security and intelligence contacts with them, as well as trade relations.

At one time or another, each of these countries overcame its animosity and realized that it could not ignore the enormous body of knowledge, knowhow and technological innovation developed by Israel. They decided that their security interests, including aviation security, would be better served by secretly cooperating with Israel and learning from its experience, accumulated in decades of war and fighting terrorism.

Malaysia, one of the most hostile nations to Israel, is the exception. Its antagonism stands out even among the traditional Israel-bashers of the Arab and Muslim world. By and large, Malaysia has not been accessible to Israeli technology, experts and businessmen. Perhaps, over the years, some indirect deals were made between the two countries. But all in all, Malaysia refused to be “tainted” by contacts with Israel or the Jewish world.

If, as the Malaysian prime minister says, what happened to the missing Malaysian airliner was not an accident, it is natural to wonder whether Malaysia might have benefited from Israeli expertise and the pioneering measures which have improved aviation security on the ground and in the air.

Israel, having learned by trial and error, instituted unique measures that are at once simple and advanced. In 1968, after an El Al airliner was first hijacked, Israel introduced armed sky marshals and thick metal doors to protect the pilots and the cockpits. Israel also was the first to require that passengers be questioned by security personnel before boarding flights.

This measure has raised issues of privacy infringement; and many foreign tourists, as well as Israeli Arabs and Palestinians, complain of being unfairly targeted by what is clearly a “profiling” system. The system is based on experience and intuition about which nationalities, age, gender and travel history are most likely to point to involvement with terrorism. Only a tiny minority of travelers fall under this category in any way, but many are hassled.

There were major changes after three Japanese Red Army terrorists landed in Israel in May 1972, grabbed machine guns from their luggage and opened fire — killing 26 people, most of them Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico.  Israel instituted luggage searches, body searches of almost all passengers, and the use of X-ray machines on both bags and people.

Israel also became the first country to deploy armed security personnel throughout the airport. Closely guarded areas include the luggage hall for arriving passengers and the check-in desks for departures.

Israel’s meticulous security also includes thorough passport control to detect passengers carrying false documents. The passport control is linked directly with the data base of the security services, enabling a quick background screening of suspicions passengers.

But the aviation security does not end at the gates and the sleeves leading to the aircraft. After Israeli planes take off, Israeli air controllers and radar systems follow them and continue to maintain communication throughout the flight.

If only some of these measures had been introduced by Malaysia, perhaps the mysterious disappearance would not have occurred?

March 18, 2014

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