SFO (KPIX 5) — El Al Israel Airlines has requested that San Francisco police patrol its SFO ticket counter, boarding process and even watch its planes take off for every flight destined to Tel Aviv to prevent a terrorist attack, according to a source.
A San Francisco International Airport spokesperson confirmed Monday that the Israeli airline has requested that officers patrol its ticket counter twice a week. Each time the process takes about three to four hours, the spokesperson said.
Tal Eli, an Israeli citizen on his way to Tel Aviv Monday, said he was questioned thoroughly by airline employees before he was allowed to go to the gate.
“Where did I come from, how long I’ve been here, how long I’ve been there, who pack my stuff and did I give it to anybody,” Eli said. “I’m not used to it.”
But El Al has taken its security measures one step further by requesting SFPD officers, who are staffed at SFO, to be at the ticket counter when it opens up for flights to Tel Aviv.
In total, several officers patrol El Al, which leaves fewer officers to respond to calls at the massive airport.
But El Al passengers, including Sasson Tzemah, said that the extra security brings them peace of mind. Tzemah said that he’s flown other airlines, but their screening doesn’t compare to El Al’s.
The airline has been the target of terrorist attacks in the past, including a shooting at the airline’s ticket counter at the Los Angeles International Airport in 2002 that left several people dead. It was an El Al security guard who shot and killed the gunman.
Security is so tight at the SFO El Al counter, that an employee who only identified himself as head of security questioned why KPIX5 was there.
He refused to give his name or a phone number to gather more information for this news story.
At least one other airline goes to Tel Aviv from SFO, but a source said that only El Al has requested police patrols.
“I think it’s always good to have extra security,” said Eli. “There’s nothing wrong with extra security.”