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The timing was extraordinary: the very same day an Iranian-born man took over Lindt café at Sydney, taking dozens of hostages, Lod’s train station was the scene of a hostage rescue drill by IDF’s counter terror unit.
The fighters trained for an entire week on the following scenario: terrorists have taken train passengers hostage. This train car environment is characterized by narrow spaces, akin to buses and planes.
When the train schedule was over for the day, the IDF’s counterterrorism unit arrived at the Lod train station, armed with a special police unit complete with dogs, as well as a special engineering unit, to commence the drill.
The counterterrorism officers first exercised a low-key entry into the perimeter, making their way quietly along the tracks. When the order was issued, they stormed the train cars from various positions, scouring the area, processing the data and ‘eliminating’ the simulated terrorists. The commander explained the emphasis is on rapid threat-elimination to achieve the ultimate target: securing the safe release of all hostages. The element of surprise is all important, so various actions and methods are taken, such as diversion.
Head of Counterterrorism Branch Major Lior Aroch said the primary challenge is to get at the terrorists as quickly as possible. Since the train car is usually dense, the training focused on selective fire in order to avoid hitting the hostages, or the fellow officers.
This type of training exercise requires a large degree of dedicated weapons. The whole operation is based on attacking the terrorists from numerous various directions in order to neutralize them – and only them – quickly, and preventing them from responding.