Shots at Ben Gurion airport highlight firearms dilemma

It is a big dilemma: when to use firearms to avoid the danger of a terror attack on a busy airport terminal.

This is exactly the dilemma that was faced by security guards at Ben Gurion international airport in Tel Aviv in the early hours of Tuesday.

The incident, which ended with four very accurate shots, began at 3.30am when a truck broke through the main entrance security checkpoint

The truck arrived at the main checkpoint leading from highway No 1 to the airport. When the driver and another man sitting in the cabin were asked for identification, the driver hit the accelerator and began to drive at very high speed in the direction of Terminal 3.

The truck broke through a second barrier that was set by a security team and then the security guards opened fire and punctured all the tyres.

Two suspects fled on foot and were arrested minutes later.

Police checked the truck but found no suspicious items.

Flights were suspended due to the incident. Landing aircraft were directed to remote parking points.

The terminal was full of passengers and they were instructed to get away from the main doors until the situation was under control.

While Ben Gurion airport is a very security-sensitive site, the last time firearms were used by its security guards was in 1972.

On May 30 1972, three members of a Japanese Red Army terror cell arrived at Tel Aviv airport on an Air France flight.

In the arrival hall, they took automatic weapons from inside suitcases and opened fire on other passengers in the baggage claim area.

The attack was a joint operation of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Japanese Red Army. The attackers killed 26 people and injured 71 others.

One terrorist was killed by security guards, another committed suicide and the third was arrested.

The Ben Gurion security “army” is heavily armed with Tavor assault rifles and handguns.

But since 1972, these had not been used in spite of many incidents that could have given a reason to do so.

This time the “profile” of the incident did not leave any option. The four very accurate shots ended the drama.

The dilemma will always be in the air.

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