Suicide bomber-proof buses tested in Jerusalem

Four armored vehicles developed by Israel Military Industries as part of a joint project by Egged, the Transportation Ministry and the Israel Police.

bus 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
bus 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Buses designed to keep out suicide bombers are being tested on Jerusalem's roads in a six-week pilot program, and will be marketed to the world if successful. The four armored vehicles, which began their rounds on Sunday, were developed by Israel Military Industries as part of a joint project by Egged, the Transportation Ministry and the Israel Police. The new buses boast a number of special features, including a one-way mechanism that allows the bus doors to be opened for exit only, a revolving arm at the door to enable better scrutiny of passengers entering the bus, a double-glazed blast-resistant door, and a speaker that allows the driver to address the passengers waiting to board the bus. These and other additions add two tons to the buses' weight. "These buses will go through a trial period, which hopefully they will pass successfully," Egged Director-General Gideon Mizrahi said. "After examining the efficiency of the technological apparatuses that will ensure the safety of the passengers, and the buses' ability to be integrated into the public transportation [system] without interrupting it, we will reach a decision on the future of the project." Dani Shenar, head of the security department in the Transportation Ministry and the head of this project for two years, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the first day of the pilot was satisfactory. "So far, four armored buses were built, and in the next month and a half, they will be driven in Jerusalem by specially trained drivers and a team of inspectors. This project has numerous aspects to be considered - financial, security and operational aspects, as well as the public's safety - which the inspectors will follow," Shenar said. Shenar stressed that the project would be shelved as soon as the pilot was over and would be reevaluated at a later date. "We have no plan to armor the 5,000 buses that drive in Israel, because right now there is no need for that. However, if such a need arises, it will be easier to carry it out, and faster," Shenar said. Shenar also revealed that 10 Western countries have already shown interest in the project and might purchase it if the pilot goes as planned. Meanwhile, the project's creators, who refuse to disclose its costs, hope the new buses will not cause delays in the public transportation schedule, that the public will accept it with patience, and that it will turn out to be as effective against suicide bombers as they believe. Avi Felder, director-general of Israel Military Industries, said: "This project represents one of a variety of capabilities among Israel Military Industries developments in the counterterrorism field and the protection of the home front. Israel Military Industries sees in this project an answer to Israel's citizens' security, and only afterwards a solution that can be marketed to the world that seeks these sorts of solution."