Bomb squad officers at J'lem bomb site 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As news came in to national police headquarters in Jerusalem of a blast near the
capital’s International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha’uma), officers from the
Operations Branch put a carefully prepared and repeatedly drilled plan into
It was aimed at achieving two goals simultaneously: to apprehend
the terrorists behind the lethal attack as soon as possible, and to prevent any
To achieve the first goal, police work closely with
intelligence agencies and the IDF, and hold round-the- clock evaluation meetings
in which senior officers are provided with the latest information on the likely
identity of the suspects, their point of origin and possible escape
Unlike other incidents, there was no specific intelligence
pointing to an imminent attack on the capital prior to Wednesday’s
After confirming that an attack had taken place, police flooded
the area to keep the public away, and a bomb squad was sent to analyze the 1.5
kilogram explosive device, which was packed with shrapnel and hidden in a bag
near a crowded bus stop. Bomb squad officers also combed the area for additional
Police quickly set up roadblocks around the capital, as part of
the initial countermeasures designed to capture the attackers.
hunt for the perpetrators continued, an additional evaluation meeting was held
David Cohen in the evening – attended by Operations Branch
head Cmdr. Nissim Mor, and Jerusalem District chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco – in
which they pored over the latest intelligence analyses.
That meeting was
primarily dedicated to realigning the force’s 27,000 officers with the aim of
minimizing the threat of additional attacks.
Cohen decided to place the
force on its highest operational state of alert, Stage 3, and to send
reinforcements to Jerusalem.
Cohen faced a logistical dilemma – he also
needed to provide back-up forces to the rocket-stricken Southern District. He
therefore moved forces from the center and North to Jerusalem and the
Mor ordered all police districts to put into action a security
plan which involved the following steps: Deploying officers to crowded areas to
increase public security, looking out for Palestinians who had illegally entered
the country and returning them to the West Bank as soon as possible – as
terrorists could exploit routes used by illegal workers – and beefing up the
emergency 100 phone service with additional operators.
checkpoints have been set up across main arteries and other roads to keep a
close eye on traffic. Finally, officers have been instructed to prioritize
searches for suspicious items and individuals.
On Wednesday evening, as
Mor’s instructions were received, special meetings were held by district
commanders on how to implement the plans.
As police kicked into
counter-terrorism mode, in Jerusalem officers were faced with the grim task of
making contact with family members of the British woman killed in the
Meanwhile, in the South special preparations were under way to
cope with the threat of continued long-range and short-range rocket attacks on
cities, including Ashdod and Beersheba.
Lt.-Cmdr. Kobi Cohen, acting
Southern District head, was able to take advantage of reinforcements provided by
national headquarters and ordered an increase in patrol cars on urban roads.
Officers are also being deployed on roads leading to hospitals, and police
volunteers have been called up.
The district released figures on
projectile attacks from Gaza on Wednesday. Since the beginning of the week, 69
rockets had been fired, while 109 rockets had been fired since the beginning of
Since the end of Operation Cast Lead, 450 rockets had been