Israel to play key role in safeguarding Olympics

JERUSALEM – Israel will play a major role in securing the upcoming Athens Olympics, with its navy patrolling the Greek coast and military and intelligence officers working closely with the Greek armed forces, the US Army and NATO, according to Israeli military officials. Israel has volunteered its expertise on securing mass public events from terror attacks and is advising Greece on how to seal off its airspace and coastal waters in the event of a terrorist attempt, officials said Tuesday. A seven-nation security task force, including the US, Britain and Israel, are involved in the $1.2 billion security plans for the Games. There is already close liaison between the Israeli navy, its Greek counterpart, the US 6th Fleet and the relevant air forces. Greece, the US Army and NATO are also in close contact with Israeli intelligence, the officials said. Israel expects one of its senior officers to sit in NATO’s southern command headquarters in Naples, Italy, during the Games, but NATO itself is still undecided on such close Israeli involvement, they added. Private Israeli firms will also contribute to the Greek security effort, supplying patrol boats for the Greek navy, closed-circuit TV and other monitoring systems for the streets of Athens and other services. Israel’s Shin Bet security agency will protect the Israeli team – guarding Israeli quarters in the Olympic Village, sites Israeli athletes may visit and sailing events off the Greek coast – as it has done since the 1972 killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. The Olympic guard detail will be the largest Israel has ever undertaken, the officials said, because of intelligence estimates of a potential terror attempt against Israelis.