Israel tests suicide-bomb resistant buses

March 5, 2008 11:49:39 AM PST
Israeli officials said Wednesday that they are testing four buses with blast-proof windows, specialized doors and other features designed to protect passengers from suicide bombers. The buses being tested in Jerusalem are equipped with a turnstile that allows the driver to inspect the passengers as they get on the bus and a back door designed for exit only. The buses also have crowd-control equipment for emergencies, said Ronit Eckstein, a spokeswoman for Israel Military Industries, the defense contractor that developed the buses.

No other information, such as additional security features, bus routes or cost would be made public for security reasons, she said.

Between 2001 and 2004, 77 passengers were killed in six bombings aboard Jerusalem buses, carried out by Palestinian attackers who detonated explosives they were carrying after boarding the buses.

The bloodiest was Aug. 19, 2003, when 23 people were killed. In all, suicide bombers blew up 21 buses in Israel during that period, killing 208. The last bus bombing was in August 2004.

Ora Saloman, a spokeswoman for the Transport Ministry, said trial runs of the buses began on Sunday. She declined to elaborate. She said four buses are on the roads in Jerusalem, and if successful, they would be offered for export.

The special buses will be taken off the roads for further assessment after the six-week trials, she said.


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