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Buses to block bombers

By Associated Press
Published January 23, 2004

RAMAT HASHARON, Israel - Israel unveiled a new security system Thursday that is designed to keep suicide bombers off buses, one of the deadliest forms of Palestinian attacks.

Thirteen times during three years of violence, Palestinians carrying bombs boarded buses and blew themselves up, killing 139 passengers. The attacks have deterred many people from riding buses, Israel's most common and cheapest form of mass transport.

The key element of the new system, displayed Thursday at Israel Military Industries outside Tel Aviv, is a $2,000 turnstile. The driver monitors passengers boarding his bus, and if anyone arouses suspicions, he presses a button to lock the turnstile, keeping the person off the bus.

However, Palestinian bombers have taken to disguising themselves, some as women, others as Orthodox Jews, to avoid detection.

A more sophisticated, $20,000 version of the system includes electronic sensors to detect explosives up to 3 feet away, setting off an alarm near the driver.

A bomber could still detonate his explosives outside the bus, but there would probably be fewer casualties.

The system was developed by the Israeli bus manufacturing company Haargaz, the Israeli Transportation Ministry and Israel Military Industries.

Five city buses with the basic version of the system will be on the road next month as part of a pilot project.

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