Guards died due to 'lack of training'

The murder of two civilian security guards last Friday at the Nitzanei Oz industrial area, near Tul Karm, has sparked a debate over the quality of tens of thousands of Israeli guards.

Eli Wasserman and Shimon Mizrahi were shot dead while guarding a plastics factory. Hamas and Islamic Jihad jointly took responsibility.

One security guard had been standing with his back to Tul Karm, a second had left his weapon in his car and a third ran away when shooting began. The commander of IDF forces in the West Bank, Brig-Gen Noam Tibon, said that “one trained guard should have been enough to prevent this attack”.

“I hate to say something bad about people who have just been murdered, but those two men weren’t professionals. They didn’t have the proper training or capabilities to counter a terror attack,” said Pini Shif, who heads the Organisation of Security Companies in Israel.

“The moment someone stands at the entrance of a supermarket, shop or government office, he’s automatically called a security guard and that is a total disregard of the concept of security, which is a profession.”

Mr Shif added that some 70,000 civilians worked in the security industry, few of them adequately trained.

“The police decide upon the security necessary,” he added, “and when a government office or private company puts out a tender, those are the guidelines. The problem is that many institutions hire the cheapest company, even though they know that there is no way that they can hire suitable guards for that price.”

“We got every kind of sick and disabled person here,” said a shooting-range manager in Jerusalem who preferred not to be identified. “People aged 65, overweight and out of shape; none of them will ever be able to face a terrorist, but they know that if they do just basic shooting training, they will be able to get jobs as school or restaurant guards easily.”

    Last updated: 11:11am, May 7 2008