Police prepare country for Obama visit

Public prepared for US president’s visit with websites, 24-hour hotline; most important visit since pope came in 2009, police spokesman says.

US flags prepared ahead of Obama visit 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
US flags prepared ahead of Obama visit 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Top security commanders from the Israel Police held a press conference at the Border Police headquarters in Jerusalem Monday afternoon to address ongoing preparations and the public’s questions regarding US President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel, which begins on Wednesday.
“This is the most important and significant visit to this country since former president George W. Bush came in 2008 and Pope Benedict XVI came in 2009,” said Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
“Israeli police are taking no chances whatsoever during this visit to ensure the president is safe and that everything goes as planned.”
With the help of a PowerPoint presentation, Maj.-Gen. Nissim Mor, the head of the Operational Department for the Israel Police, delineated scheduled road closings and openings and introduced a hotline, website and Facebook page for the public to keep all abreast of activities involving the US president’s two-day stay.
“We have created a 24-hour hotline to answer any questions the public has during President Obama’s visit, which can be reached at 1-700-553-100, as well as a website at www.police.gov.il and Facebook page at www.facebook.com/israelpolice to answer any questions anyone may have about this operation,” said Mor, as he illuminated the information on a large screen.
He then showed a map detailing the route Obama’s motorcade, dubbed “The Beast,” will take, as well as the numerous street closings scheduled throughout the city.
“Through this information, the public will be informed immediately of all traffic activity, road closings, openings and any other relevant information pertaining to [Obama’s] trip,” he added.
Rosenfeld said 15,000 officers from every unit within the Israel Police were assigned to Obama’s security detail.
“We have been preparing for this visit for the last few weeks,” he said.
“Units assigned to the president will include special patrol, undercover, helicopter, rapid response, counter-terrorism and motorcycle.”
Rosenfeld added that the helicopter unit will be filming all movements on the ground in real time, footage that will be simultaneously broadcast to the central command center, overseen by senior security personnel.
“If any split-second changes need to be made in case of a protest or any other potential obstacle, the central command center at police headquarters will immediately coordinate every unit’s movement, down to the second, and the public will know about it,” he said.
Asked whether the high concentration of police in Jerusalem to guard the president will harm the safety of other parts of the country, Rosenfeld said there was no need for alarm.
“Police issues will continue normally in Jerusalem and other parts of the country,” he assured. “There is enough manpower to maintain normal operations. All police units will be fully functional.”
When Obama visits the Palestinian territories, Rosenfeld said security will be transferred to American personnel in coordination with the Palestinian Authority security division.