Protecting so many ministers poses 'major challenge' for Shin Bet
Hundreds of bodyguards, over NIS 100 million to be allocated to provide security for Israel's largest government ever.
By YAAKOV KATZ
Hundreds of bodyguards and over NIS 100 million will be allocated to provide security for Israel's largest government ever, which includes 30 ministers and seven deputy ministers.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) is responsible for providing security for seven government officials who are described as "state symbols": the prime minister, the president, the head of the opposition, the defense minister, the foreign minister, the speaker of the Knesset and the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
The rest of the ministers - in this case, 28 - are protected by a budget that comes from each ministry amounting to approximately NIS 3.3 million annually. The budget includes a bulletproof vehicle, closed-circuit camera systems in the minister's house, a position outside the house as well as other associated costs such as renting a home for guards near the minister's home.
In contrast to the seven "state symbols," the actual security of these ministers is carried out by a private security company called Moked which won a government tender in 2007. The job description and threat analysis is overseen by the Shin Bet's Personal Protection Unit.
Due to the size of the government as well as a Shin Bet decision to provide personal security for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's wife and two children, the security agency has decided to enlist additional security guards into its ranks.
"This is without a doubt a major challenge for the Shin Bet," explained one defense official.
One specific challenge is providing security for Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim in the northern Judean hills. As a "state symbol," Lieberman is protected by the Shin Bet Personal Protection Unit and travels in a bulletproof convoy.
Nokdim is surrounded by a number of Palestinian villages and the Shin Bet is nervous that Lieberman may become a target for Hamas terrorists.
"Moving around the West Bank in a convoy will be complicated," the defense official said.
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