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June 29, 2016 4:58 pm

Israeli Media: Security Soft-Spots Identified at Istanbul Airport Enabled Suicide Bombers to Commit Mass Murder

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Istanbul's Ataturk Airport. Photo: Wikipedia.

Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. Photo: Wikipedia.

The terrorists who committed the multiple suicide bombings at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on Tuesday evening took advantage of a number of security soft-spots to commit mass murder, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, in spite of otherwise careful and impressive security checks at the Turkish hub, it has a few Achilles Heels. One of these is the lack of distinction between airport and airplane security. This runs contrary to aviation-world practice in recent years: to have three individual and separate circles of security — one for securing the airport, another for securing flights and a third for securing flight paths.

In Israel, the report said, these three circles are not only separate, but almost completely disconnected from one another. In Turkey and a number of other European countries, however, this is not the way it works. Instead, passengers and their luggage are examined at the entrance to the terminal, where there is always a long line of travelers and people who accompanied them to the airport waiting to be checked before entering the terminal. In addition, the security station at the gates of the terminal is not manned with a sniper on the ready to shoot at a terrorist who confronts a guard or policeman, as happened on Tuesday evening.

Another vulnerability, the report said, derives from the fact that passengers who use the airport shuttle service at Taksim Square in Istanbul are not checked before boarding. Not only that, but the shuttle buses drive right up to the departures terminal, without having to stop first at the checkpoint for private cars.

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In Israel, airport shuttles have to go through the same checkpoints as all vehicles. Passengers arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv by train are spared this step, but all train travelers must undergo a security check at their point of departure.

Furthermore, at Ataturk, there is no area specifically reserved for neutralizing suspicious vehicles that manage to speed through the first checkpoint. Nor is it clear whether road spikes are operated automatically in such an event.

According to Walla, there are similarities between Tuesday’s attack in Turkey and that which took place at the Brussels airport in March. In both cases, the terrorists identified the entrance to the terminal as a vulnerable spot, due to the absence of security checks in the greater airport area. This was true of the 2012 bus bombing at the Burgas Airport in Bulgaria, as well.

Some 60 million passengers land at Ataturk Airport every year – approximately 5 million per month. Yet only some arrive at the airport’s outer gates, as Ataturk is a hub for flights stopping over and continuing on to other destinations.

Walla concluded that Turkey will undoubtedly learn from the attack and implement new security measures, and will “likely approach Israeli professionals for advice.”

However, according to Israel’s Channel 2, on the morning after Istanbul’s multiple suicide-bombing and shooting attack, which left 41 people dead and another 239 wounded, it was easy to get around Ataturk Airport without undergoing any additional security checks, and flights resumed as usual.

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