'We're protecting Olympians regardless of threats'

Barak says intelligence and operational alert by Israeli, UK authorities working to minimize chance of an attack.

July 22, 2012 09:38
2 minute read.
Security at London Olympics

Security at London Olympics 370 (R). (photo credit: Luke MacGregor / Reuters)


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Israeli, British and other international intelligence and security agencies are working ahead of the Olympics to minimize the chance that any attack takes place, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday.

"This is something we work on anyway, whether there is a threat or not," Barak said during a visit to the IDF's Bakum induction base at Tel Hashomer. "There is definitely intelligence and operational awareness" ahead of the games, he said, saying Israel will defend itself everywhere at all times.

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Speaking of the terror attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last week, the defense minister said there is nothing new to report about the investigation, but that Israel and its international partners are working with all their might to find those responsible.

"It is clear that this was a Hezbollah operation," he asserted.

Defense Ministry Diplomatic and Security Bureau head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad on Sunday denied a report in The Sunday Times morning that the Mossad sent dozens of agents to Europe in order to hunt down Caucasian converts to Islam that were allegedly recruited to launch attacks at the London Olympics.

"Intelligence doesn't work that way," Gilad told Army Radio, saying "you don't send dozens of agents hunt down ghosts."

There are, however, threats and attempts to harm Israelis by Iran and Hezbollah, generally, he said.


The Times report cited "reports from Tel Aviv" that the Mossad was hunting Iranian Quds Force and Hezbollah operatives, naming one of the alleged terrorists as man carrying a US passport under the name David Jefferson. It alleged the man was in possession of an explosive device similar to the one used in a terror attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last week.

Along with Gilad, the Times also quoted British security officials who played down the report, saying Israel was likely dispersing information about the threats in order to spur UK officials to increase their security measures for the Israeli Olympic delegation.

Head of the Israeli Olympic delegation in London Efraim Zinger said Sunday that the Olympic village is secure and that the Israeli athletes are receiving special security attention.

Israel is on a list of countries that have threats against them, he told Army Radio, and therefore the athletes are being protected with increased security.

Israel boosted security at El Al airport counters and around embassies across the globe last Thursday amid concern that Iran and Hezbollah are plotting additional attacks in the near future.

On Thursday, officials from the Mossad and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) convened a meeting to discuss future coordination and to assess the threat level in various countries throughout the world.

Defense officials said that specific attention was being given to airports where security was lax and to Israeli tour buses, like the one that was attacked on last week by a suicide bomber in the Bulgarian resort town of Burgas.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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