TEL AVIV – In the wake of the Brussels terrorist attacks, which a former security chief at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport termed a “colossal failure” of Belgian security, the world is looking to Israel as a model.
Authorities in Europe and across the world are tightening security at airports, railway stations, government buildings, and other critical sites after the deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and metro that killed 34 people.
European leaders held emergency security meetings to toughen security measures, deploying more police, explosives experts, sniffer dogs, and plainclothes officers.
Pini Schiff, the former head of security at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, which is considered among the most secure in the world, said “the chances are very low” that the bombing could have happened in Israel.
“Two terrorists who enter the terminal area with explosive devices, this is undoubtedly a colossal failure,” Schiff said.
Following attacks on Israeli planes by Palestinians in the 1970s, Israeli officials implemented several layers of security at the airport in Tel Aviv.
The Obama administration is expected to announce new measures to tighten U.S. airport security. So far, the country’s largest cities have been put on high alert and authorities deployed the National Guard to local airports in New York City.
According to the Associated Press, some analysts say Europe will finally have to implement a much tougher level of security not only at airports, but also at “soft targets” like shopping malls — the kind that Israelis have been living with for years.
“The threat we are facing in Europe is about the same as what Israel faces,” said Olivier Guitta, the managing director of GlobalStrat, an international security consultancy. “We have entered an era in which we are going to have to change our way of life and take security very seriously.”
Egypt has been working to improve its security after a Russian jet was brought down last October when Islamic State extremists smuggled a makeshift soda-can bomb on board, killing all 224 passengers.
In Greece, police stepped up security at airports, metro stations, and embassies with uniformed and plain-clothed officers. But government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said there were no additional security measures being taken for refugees and migrants following the attacks in Belgium.
“We are not making any linkage between those two issues. That would be a defeat for Europe,” she said.
Despite the French Prime Minister saying that Europe is “at war,” not everyone agrees that security measures are in need of an overhaul.
“The public needs to understand that if we are to continue to enjoy living in a free society we have to respond in a proportional way,” said Simon Bennett, director of the Civil Safety and Security Unit at the University of Leicester, England. “In my opinion, airport security is as tight as we can reasonably make it in a free society.”