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Case Study / Letter bomb discovered in local post office in Israel

A resident of the northern Israeli city of Migdal Haemek received two letter bombs by post earlier this month. The woman who received the packages, whose name has not been released, felt the packages were suspicious and called the police.

Although she said she was not under threat and could not understand who could have sent her the bombs, she was vigilant enough to alert the professionals.

The officers who arrived on the scene, called in the police IED unit to examine the letters and bomb techs determined that they were, indeed, letter bombs.

(Although it is not admitted officially, it is fair to assume that X-ray images of the letter bombs were taken, as part of the effort to dismantle these IED’s, according to Vidisco, a supplier of portable X-ray equipment, based in Or-Yehuda, Israel.).

Robots were involved in neutralizing the explosive devices.

“The police also issued security guidelines instructing the public to check whether mail is suspiciously heavy, strangely shaped, double packed, contains electric wires, or has a message written on it such as ‘personal’ or ‘urgent’,” reported Haaretz.com, an Israeli Web site.

Vidisco points out that its portable X-ray systems can be transported to any site for the inspection of a suspicious object; particularly since some postal items are sorted in locations where a stationary X-ray system is not available. (In Israel, the postal service and customs / border control cooperate in operating stations for the inspection of international post.)

When a “dirty” package or IED slips through security -- like the incident on February 22, when a dangerous package reached a local post office – it can present a substantial challenge to authorities. In that incident, the police bomb squad was able to inspect and dismantle the threat on site.

To guard against future incidents, Vidisco notes the following:

Real-time inspection, with immediate images, enable action to be taken quickly to dismantle IED’s on the spot.

Portable pulsed X-ray sources require smaller safety zones, which makes it simpler to operate in a crowd.

14-bit (16,384 grey levels) high quality images enable authorities to see the tiniest detail in an IED.

Dual Energy with XR-DE and Golden XRS-3 (270kV X-ray source) enables detection of suspicious explosive material, even if that material is shaped in only a thin layer (such as a letter bomb), and even if the materials are located inside hard-to-penetrate containers.

Postal services were suspended throughout Israel, while authorities searched the country’s main post offices for bombs. “We are not distributing any mail at the moment, nor taking in any mail because we want to protect public safety,” said Avi Hochman, director of Israel Postal Services, according to a February 22 news account by the BBC.

 

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