A Border Policeman holds his weapon as he guards the area from above while his comrades patrol at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
More than 3,500 police officers working in lockstep around the clock have helped turn the tide in the capital’s once seemingly insurmountable six-month long wave of terrorist attacks over the past few weeks, a senior police official said on Tuesday.
With the last major attack in Jerusalem having taken place on March 9 outside the Old City, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the relative lull in violence is attributable to hyper-vigilance, preemptive tactics and extensive intelligence coordination.
“Of course, the strategy is having police units at the right place at the right time, so we have mapped out the different areas where terror attacks could or have taken place,” said Rosenfeld during an interview with The Jerusalem Post
“Multiple units are carrying out security measures in those areas – constantly guarding and patrolling them by car, motorcycle and foot, with undercover officers on site at all times.”
To ensure seamless coordination, Rosenfeld said a Tactical Intelligence Assessment Unit has been instrumental in “keeping all units connected in real time.”
Areas of the capital being monitored most carefully, he said, include the Old City, with an emphasis on the Damascus Gate; the light rail, which is frequently chaperoned by patrol cars; the central bus station; and all malls, restaurants and shopping centers.
The biggest challenge facing police, Rosenfeld contended, is the unpredictable nature of the attacks, which he said units are increasingly identifying using preemptive measures, including closely monitoring Arab social media.
“Over the last couple months, there’s been a change in tracking and finding potential terrorists, and police units are deeply involved in tracking social media sites where potential terrorists are making contact with one another and transferring information,” he said.
“Based on this information, police have been able to reach potential terrorists and have them arrested before they can carry out attacks.”
Moreover, Rosenfeld said police are working closely with the IDF in the West Bank to prevent the smuggling of improvised automatic weapons, which have been used by several terrorists in the capital.
“The national Police and IDF have increased coordination to find and raid the factories in Judea and Samaria where weapons are being made,” he said.
Still, Rosenfeld said there are multiple ongoing threats the police are up against, with each presenting different deadly scenarios that must be dealt with immediately, without costing the lives of civilians and officers.
“Our police officers are tested every day with a wide range of scenarios, and have to react quickly to save lives by risking their own lives,” he said. “There is no margin for error to do this right.”
Since the wave of attacks began in October, Palestinians have killed 30 Israelis and two US citizens, while security forces have killed at least 187 Palestinian assailants.