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JERUSALEM, Israel – Shooting attacks on schools in Israel are rare and the Jewish state’s preventive security measures could be a helpful starting point for improved school security in the U.S. This comes at a time of public debate on how best to secure schools in the wake of the Texas school shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead at the Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
There have been six terrorist attacks on Israeli schools since 1974. That low figure can be explained by the multiple layers of security Israel employs and the engagement of civil society in aiding the nation’s law enforcement.
David Hazony, a writer, and commentator on Israeli and American affairs and a father to eleven children, told Fox News Digital that the country “puts effort into identifying potential assailants through behavioral profiling.”
Israel could not prevent attacks if its efforts were based solely on armed security guards at each school, he said. Israel “invests heavily in monitoring profiles of people,” Hazony continued.
It has a “complex, multi-layered approach” to security that uses intelligence networks to examine the acquisition of weapons and social media activity, he said.
Yigal Arbiv, who was in charge of security at Tchernichovsky Junior High School in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya for 16 years, told Fox News Digital it is important that the “head of security [for a school] be given authorization to do everything” to provide safety for the children and staff.
Arbiv, who has 27 years of military and security experience, said his system employed a “spotter 50 meters from school” who patrolled the area and kept an eye out. Visitors to the school “could only come from one direction,” he said.
A fence surrounds the school and cameras are in place all over the facility. “Hot spots” can be manually activated when a problem arises, sending a message to the head of security and staff, said Arbiv, who now runs the Israeli Krav Maga & Security Training company (I.K.M.A).
“Everyone who goes into the school needs to go through a metal detector, like at an airport, and sign his name,” the security expert said, adding that the “school has one exit and one entrance… nobody comes to the school without the head of security knowing about it. We do not allow people not connected to school to come inside.”
There are also “barricades around the school, so people can’t drive into it,” he said. Palestinian terrorists have used vehicles to carry out ramming attacks in Israel.
Arbiv, who said he has trained police in the U.S., added that a large school compound also requires a guard on a motorcycle.
Another idea gaining traction is a volunteer force to add more security to schools. Leading that effort is Brig. Gen. (Res.) Amir Avivi, the founder and CEO of the Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF) NGO. He told Fox News Digital that, “At every school in Israel you have a guard at the entrance monitoring people entering.”
Avivi highlighted the multiple layers of security Israel uses to stymie attacks on schools, including the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency, which is “responsible for monitoring potential terrorist attacks and social media.”
He said the Shin Bet is the equivalent of the FBI in the U.S. and deploys agents whose “abilities are impressive. They have different, sophisticated ways of collecting intelligence from artificial intelligence and cyber.”
His organization recently launched an innovative program with the Israeli national police force as well as the country’s Border Police to bolster school security.
“We have seen terrorist attacks and the uprising of Arab society in Israel last year [during the 11-day war with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip],” said Avivi, who added the IDSF is recruiting volunteers to assist the Border Police and Police with school safety. “In one day, we recruited 500 people, half of the people needed.”
The police maintain control and responsibility for training the volunteer brigade. “The Border Police felt it lacked marketing capabilities to reach volunteers. Our organization is active on social media, and they asked us to start a campaign to get volunteers,” Avivi said.
The IDSF is composed of “3,000 reserve officers and operatives from all branches of the Israeli security forces” who seek to ensure the security for all citizens both young and old.
Avivi said, “We need something like 100,000 volunteers. Every journey starts with the first step. The prime minister is talking about 30,000. We think it needs to go faster. This is the discussion we are having with the government and the lessons from the riots last year should have been learned faster. We definitely need to reallocate more budgets to the Border Police and volunteers.”
This month amid mounting terror attacks Israel’s Prime Minister announced a plan to form a civil guard to fight terrorism.
Avivi noted that Israeli “civilian society understands the shortcomings of government, and civilian society is helping” and stressed that the volunteers are not a “vigilante” force or “militia,” but will be under the strict control of the Border Police.
“They will be trained and equipped by Border Police officers and will operate in various areas, including in schools,” he said. Avivi said the program is an “example of how civil society can help government institutions provide security.”