Israel part of seven-nation security task force

Updated: June 23, 2004, 12:51 PM ET
Associated Press

JERUSALEM -- Israel will play a major role in securing the Athens Olympics, with its navy patrolling the Greek coast and military and intelligence officers working closely with the Greek armed forces, the U.S. Army and NATO.

Israel also is advising Greece on how to seal its airspace and coastal waters in the event of a terror attack, Israeli military officials said Tuesday.

A seven-nation security task force, including the United States, Britain and Israel, is part of the $1.2 billion security plans for the Aug. 13-29 games.

There already are ties involving the Israeli navy, its Greek counterpart, the U.S. 6th Fleet and the relevant air forces. Greece, the U.S. Army and NATO also are in close contact with Israeli intelligence, the officials said.

Israel expects one of its senior officers to be at NATO's southern command headquarters in Naples, Italy, during the games. NATO is still undecided on such close Israeli involvement, the officials added.

Private Israeli firms will also contribute to the Greek security effort, supplying patrol boats for the Greek navy, closed-circuit TV and other monitoring systems for the streets of Athens and other services.

Israel's Shin Bet security agency will protect the Israeli team, guarding Israeli quarters in the Olympic village, sites Israeli athletes may visit and sailing events off the Greek coast. The agency has provided such protection since the 1972 killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.

The Olympic guard detail will be Israel's largest because of intelligence estimates of a potential terrorism against Israelis at the Athens Games, officials said.

Greek officials said the foreign security agents will not be allowed to carry firearms.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press