December 1, 2023 8:23 AM

What Steps US Secret Service is Taking to Ensure Biden’s Safety During Israel Visit?

Members of the Secret Service walk, before US President Joe Biden boards Marine One in New York. Biden is visiting Israel PM Netanyahu in the wake of the Hamas attacks on Israel. (Image: Reuters)

Members of the Secret Service walk, before US President Joe Biden boards Marine One in New York. Biden is visiting Israel PM Netanyahu in the wake of the Hamas attacks on Israel. (Image: Reuters)

A video released by news agency ANI showed dozens of Israeli officers pacing about in Tel Aviv, as if to wrap the city in a security foil ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit.

Tel Aviv is preparing for US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel where he will meet Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to show US support for Israel. Security has been tightened across the city and Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and local Tel Aviv police departments are working strenuous shifts to ensure that Biden remains safe during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It is not unusual for US Presidents to go to conflict zones and former presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, have also visited conflict and active war zones. Biden’s predecessors George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have also travelled to and visited war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan but they were guided by the US Secret Service agents.

A report by the ABC News pointed out that this time it is different because the Biden administration has made a public announcement regarding his visit and it is a rare occurrence. The report says that it also adds an increased risk due to the timeframe also being shared.

Counterpart System

The US Secret Service will work with the White House staff, agents of the Diplomatic Security Service, the US embassy and with their foreign counterparts – in this case it is the Israeli Shin Bet, the nation’s security agency – to handle the challenges and logistics that are associated with such a visit.

The ABC News report said this is because Shin Bet is handling the protective functions for Israel’s Prime Minister and President and Biden will also be under the same security bubble when he meets Netanyahu.

This is called the counterpart system. The Secret Service uses it around the world to ensure that presidential visits are conducted safely. The plan every step of the visit with their counterparts and work on reducing risks. The process starts anywhere from five days to two weeks before a visit, the ABC News report said.

The American Secret Service has taken Biden’s predecessors to both Israel and the West Bank. The West Bank is governed by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and President Mahmud Abbas. Even in peaceful conditions, there are threats that loom over this entire region.

The secret service plans travel logistics to the region with the US military, particularly with Air Force One and the Marine Helicopter Squadron One. The Protective Intelligence unit works with other US departments and its counterparts to identify, investigative and mitigate any negative intelligence, the report said.

There is another team on the ground known as the Advance Team, who install protective mitigation measures to keep the president safe. The report pointed out that this is the reason why the US Navy has sent a carrier strike group with two aircraft carriers into the eastern Mediterranean near Israel.

The Secret Service Airspace Security Branch in the Special Operations Division will work with Israeli security agencies to eliminate the threat of rocket attacks.

It should be noted that the US secretary of state Antony Blinken and the bipartisan group of senators led by Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer on two occasions had to take shelter in a bomb shelter due to Hamas rockets earlier this month when they visited Israel in a display of solidarity.

Finally, the Secret Service’s Counter Assault Team will be on ground monitoring developments and quickly create a tactical plan that can address any attack, assault or event in case of any emergency event that can put the US President’s life in danger.

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