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be readyPart 2 of Series – How Israel does Security Differently


You probably did not hear the following story that took place in Jerusalem last month. 


A security officer assigned to a train station in Jerusalem observed a man who looked suspicious to him.  This officer is an Arab Druze (  He went up to the man and noticing that he was Arab, spoke to him in Arabic – a language native to both men.  The man did not answer him.  That he was ignoring the officer was highly suspicious.  The officer conducted a forced search of his backpack, found three pipe bombs and other weapons, took him down to the ground to stop and detain him. 


Many lives were saved that day.


In a video interview, the security officer explains that the first step he took was to question the man.  He says it matter-of-factly because engaging suspicion, more often than not in the form of a question, is at the heart of the Israeli security method.  In these contexts, a question is a security tool, not a benign social nicety.  Even the lack of response to his question told the officer what he needed to know, that the man who appeared suspicious may indeed present a threat.




This incident underscores three pillars of Israel security:


  • The power of questioning
  • The singular focus on threat
  • The mind set of Seek to Engage


Israeli security officers have license to respond tactically to suspicion and are legally allowed to detain and search when they believe they have cause in the form of a suspicion indicator.  An officer is not interested in arresting someone, just in stopping anyone with the intent and tools to attack.  If the officer had found a bag of weed in the backpack, he may well have let it pass.  It’s about security, not law enforcement.  The focus is on stopping a threat to people, first and foremost. 


Seeking to Engage is a notion that is first drummed into soldiers during the course of their military service.  It is ingrained to the extent that at least in Israel, it sticks for life.  Anyone in the vicinity of an attack, be they military, police or civilian knows that they are meant to assert themselves to mitigate it.  That the majority of a populous is of such a mindset is a tremendous force multiplier.  


Of course, the security officer from our story at the Jerusalem train station did not hesitate to engage.  And after the event, the mayor of Jerusalem met him to thank him personally for efforts.  The mayor himself exemplifies the Seeking to Engage approach.  Here is how he jumped in during a knife attack that occurred in Jerusalem last year: