U.S. - Israel Homeland Security Cooperation
Since its establishment as a state, the reality of life in Israel has forced Israelis to defend themselves against constant terrorist threats. As a result, the Jewish state has become a world leader in designing techniques and technologies in the arenas of homeland security and counter-terrorism. Israel is working with the U.S. government and private entities to develop technologies and equipment aimed at thwarting terrorism and safeguarding citizens in both nations.
Aviation, Port and Border Security
Israel's vast expertise in protecting its borders and ports from terrorism, and the technologies developed as a result, have been put to use in the U.S. with stunning results.
To protect the U.S. border with Mexico, the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection has been operating Israeli-designed unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicles as part of the Arizona Border Coordination Initiative.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and
airport officials from around the United States have been working with
world-renowned security experts at Israel Ben-Gurion
International Airport in order to learn how to efficiently improve
At the Laguardia, Newark and JFK International airports in the New York City area, a security and anti-terrorist technology has been put in place to help protect one of the busiest transportation hubs in the world. The system was developed by Verint, an American company with extensive operations in Israel, and was approved for use by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The port of Beaumont in Texas has also installed the Verint security system.
In May 2011, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) joined with the Port of Miami in implementing the NICE Situator, a video security and response system created by Israeli-based NICE Systems, to help protect the millions of travelers and commercial goods that pass through their ports every year. The NICE Situator greatly improves video monitoring equipment and enables officials to view real-time, multi-layered information on an intuitive map-based interface system that can track personnel, passengers, objects and airplanes. The technology also allows for officials at LAX and the Port of Miami to streamline their security operations and enhance their situational awareness and response capabilities.
"LAX is a major airport for one of the world's most populous metropolitan areas, and as such we encounter many daily operational challenges, from the ordinary to the unexpected, many of which require real-time response and impact," said Jacqueline Anna Yaft, Deputy Executive Director of Operations and Emergency Management for LAWA. "LAX will use NICE Situator to achieve its vision of taking operations and incident management to the next level by improving situational awareness and automating our response plans."
Science, Technology and Cyber Defense
In an effort to improve both nations' homeland security efforts, the United States and Israel signed an agreement in May 2008 to increase their science and technology cooperation. The agreement covers a broad ranges of areas. Washington and Jerusalem will increase their information and personnel exchanges so that experts from both nations can learn from each other. They will also work to enhance the security of physical and online infrastructure. The two nations will also conduct research together in order to better protect themselves against the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological attacks.
Already a major innovation has been created through the agreement on joint research and development of security technologies. With the additional help of the U.S. Binational Science Foundation (BSF), Professor Ehud Keinan of the Technion Institute in Israel and Professor Phillip Sawson of the Scripps Research Institute in California invented an explosive testing device that is both cheap, efficient and small. The device, no larger than the size of a pen and costing only $25 per unit, can detect minuscule amounts of peroxide bomb-related substances by performing a quick, on-the-spot chemical test. The terrorism fighting tool is already being used in numerous fields.
Additionally, the U.S. and Israel are working together to reduce the threat of attacks on computer networks worldwide. The collaborative efforts put in by Israel, the U.S. and a slew of other technologically superior countries will help ensure that each nation's online infrastructure is secure from terrorist threats and hacking.
American observers from FEMA and the National Guard often travel to Israel to participate in Israeli homeland security drills.
In January 2010, Israel conducted a large-scale bioterrorism drill, dubbed "Operation Orange Flame 4", to simulate a smallpox outbreak caused by a terrorist attack. Representatives from more than thirty countries, including the United States, came to Israel to view the two day drill and participate in a conference on emergency and disaster management.
In May 2010, Chief of the National Guard General Craig McKinley and Army Major General David Sprynczynatyk, the adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, traveled to Israel to observe the IDF's Home Front Command exercise simulating a major bioterrorism attack. Code named "Turning Point 4", the simulation tested situational preparedness, command-level assessment and even community response. "The greatest value of my being here is seeing how the communities position themselves, how they're organized and how they're prepared to react to a disaster," General Sprynczynatyk said. "I'd give anything for all of our communities back home to have the same level of capabilities that we're seeing here.
In 2005, FEMA and the Israeli National Emergency Authority signed a formal agreement to conduct joint-training drills and exercises both in Israel and the U.S. and the results of this collaboration are already showing. Andrew Slaten, FEMA's director of the Office of International Affairs, noted that FEMA has a "very long and active relationship with Israel's Home Front Command. It's a great opportunity" to learn from them.