Azrieli depicted as terror-prone

According to a new report, security officials have long known that the height and location of the Azrieli towers, next to Israel's main military base, make them a target for any airborne terrorist or missile attack.

azrielli towers 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
azrielli towers 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Security at the Azrieli Center is "inadequate" and snipers or terrorist bombers could easily reach the top floors, from where they would have a clear view of the nearby Kirya military headquarters, an exposé by the Hebrew weekly Yediot Tel Aviv has found. The newspaper said any sniper could easily pick off senior figures at the Kirya, which houses the Defense Ministry as well as the Israel Defense Forces' top officers, while a bomber could have his choice of sites to explode inside the usually-crowded shopping mall. According to the report, security officials have long known that the height and location of the Azrieli towers, next to Israel's senior military base, make them a target for any airborne terrorist or missile attack. But now the newspaper has exposed the center's vulnerability to an attack from inside. The report said that visitors entering the center's underground car park are subjected only to a cursory search of their car trunks before gaining free access to the buildings. Unlike at other shopping malls, there are no additional security guards at the doors from the parking lot into the center, and no visible security patrols inside the buildings. According to the report, it takes only a few minutes to find the best vantage point from which to see the Kirya and to get a clear and unobstructed view of helicopters landing on the roof, cars entering and leaving, staff working inside offices with windows open, and soldiers walking in the transparent corridors, around the grounds and at the observation post. The newspaper team spent more than half an hour photographing activities at the Kirya, unhindered and unquestioned by anyone, and returned two days later and repeated the exercise. The report quoted an unidentified former officer as saying security had been problematic at the Azrieli Center "from the day the buildings were first planned." He also said that security was a problem at the Kirya because responsibility for it was spread over several departments, with one unit responsible for the buildings, another for the top army officers, and another - the Shin Bet Security Agency - for the defense minister. But a spokesman for the Azrieli Center said that well-trained undercover security patrols that were "prepared for any possibility" were always working inside the buildings. And an IDF spokesman said the Kirya's security system was extensive and designed to meet threats of any kind. He added that training exercises were conducted regularly at the Kirya "to provide an answer for all possibilities," but he could not reveal the details of the security measures.