How police deal with a terror attack

After bombing in J'lem, Insp.-Gen. David Cohen gives play-by-play of maneuvers he, Operations Branch officers are trained to perform.

Bomb squad officers at J'lem bomb site 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
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 action.
It was aimed at achieving two goals simultaneously: to apprehend the terrorists behind the lethal attack as soon as possible, and to prevent any further attacks.
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 routes.
Unlike other incidents, there was no specific intelligence pointing to an imminent attack on the capital prior to Wednesday’s bombing.
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 bombs.
Police quickly set up roadblocks around the capital, as part of the initial countermeasures designed to capture the attackers.
AS THE hunt for the perpetrators continued, an additional evaluation meeting was held by Insp.-Gen.
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 South.
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.
Mobile police 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 explosion.
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 the year.
Since the end of Operation Cast Lead, 450 rockets had been fired.