Guards allow 'bombs' into parking lots

Police disappointed with outcome of drill as sappers test defenses around Haifa area shopping centers.

police sappers haifa thwarted attack 248 (photo credit: Channel 10)
police sappers haifa thwarted attack 248
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Just three days after terrorists managed to leave a parked car bomb next to a Haifa mall filled with shoppers, security guards in the city's bayside suburbs were once again caught off guard - this time, fortunately, by police sappers who were testing defenses around shopping centers. In a wide-ranging exercise carried out on Tuesday, the sappers drove mock car bombs toward three separate malls in the area. They found that they were able to pass through the security checks at each one before parking their vehicles in underground and external parking lots in and around the shopping centers. Security guards at each mall waved through vehicles that had a large bag in the trunk containing fake explosive materials and mines, and a detonation mechanism planted behind the driver's seat. At the end of the drill, the guards and their supervisors were called for an urgent meeting with police to discuss the failures. "We are disappointed with the outcome of this drill," Lt.-Cmdr. Roni Atiya, head of the police's Coastal Subdistrict, said on Tuesday. "We view with severity all gaps in levels of alert. We will continue to carry out drills to ensure that alert levels remain high." Police said the drill had been held because of Saturday night's attempted car bombing, in which 100 kg. of explosives packed with ball bearings were left in a stolen Subaru outside the Lev Hamifratz mall. A malfunction caused some of the explosives to go off partially, leading to a small blast that was heard by a passing woman. She alerted security guards, who called the police. Sappers neutralized the remaining explosives. The terrorists apparently exploited the fact that the external parking lot near the mall does not require a security check. Security forces have obtained a court-ordered media ban on all details of the investigation into the car bomb.