Personal security – a real danger from protesting citizens

Article author: Miky Weinberg – Owner of the Tarantula Technologies Ltd and Octagon Security Ltd Companies.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023, late in the afternoon, the Prime Minister’s wife is staying at a hair salon in Madinah Square in Tel Aviv. Israel is in a state of disagreement and agreement regarding the legal reform that the government decided to promote and carry out. The citizens opposed to the reform go on demonstrations.

At 19:30 it started to be announced on social networks and WhatsApp groups that the Prime Minister’s wife is at a hair salon at 22 H. Bayer St., Tel Aviv. According to the publications, following the announcement that was distributed, over a thousand protesters arrived in front of the barber shop and started protesting against the reform and against the Prime Minister’s wife who was still staying at the barber shop.

The prime minister’s wife is routinely secured by 2-3 bodyguards and apparently the same was the case with her security during her stay at the hair salon. After the arrival of a relatively large number of protesters, in the first stage security was increased with the police force, and in the second stage when it was decided to evacuate the Prime Minister’s wife from the barbershop, security was increased with security guards and armored vehicles of the Personal Security Unit of the General Security Service.

The event ended with the successful evacuation of the Prime Minister’s wife from the barbershop not only because the initial security force will be significantly increased with these additional and skilled forces but mainly because the protesters did not go into an offensive and violent phase.

A video documenting the demonstration and the evacuation phase from the barbershop:

Personal security includes the ability to deal with various threats, most of which include an adversary using an actual, visible means of attack. Incidents of assassination attempts from the past indicate that it is usually one assassin with one means of an attack who acts from a personal or nationalistic motive trying to change reality. When it comes to the security of a person who is not a prime minister, a security level of 2-3 security guards can be a professional and effective response to an opponent who will try to assassinate a person, on the other hand, what effective response can those security guards give when dealing with a crowd of angry protesters who decide to move from an orderly demonstration to an aggressive demonstration? Factually, if the protesters at a barbershop in Tel Aviv had decided to act violently, including bursting into the barbershop, no security guard and no policeman could have prevented it.

It is enough to look at the behavior of demonstrators in past events in the world, such as the behavior of citizens who demonstrated on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA and citizens in France who during the last week demonstrated against pension reform, and citizens in Sri Lanka who decided to demonstrate against the bad economic situation.

The headlines and the photographic documentation of the demonstrations in Sri Lanka leave no room for doubt regarding the fact that almost nothing can be done against the threat of an angry mob rushing forward:

“The President of Sri Lanka fled his home after crowds of protesters took him over. Protesters from around the country came to the capital Colombo to demand that the president resign and took over, among other things, his residence and office.”

A video documenting the abilities of a crowd of angry protesters:

The incident experienced by the Prime Minister’s wife at a salon in Tel Aviv is not surprising and is not unusual on a global scale because similar incidents in which citizens discovered that a personality was staying in a public place and came to it to protest occurred in several countries such as Canada where citizens demonstrated against the Prime Minister while he was in a restaurant:

And Australia where citizens demonstrated against the prime minister:

What does the threat of a mob of angry protesters look like?

An angry crowd of protesters resembles in its characteristics a herd of animals in the wild that decides to start running as a result of a sense of danger or for any other reason. You can’t stop and you can’t control a herd that rushes forward. The only ones who can stop this herd are himself or rather those who have been defined as leaders in it. Those who watched the video of the protests in Sri Lanka saw that many citizens could break into buildings, break through barriers, pass the defense line of security forces, burn, break, smash, vandalize, overturn vehicles, and even harm people, especially those who try to stop them.

What is the difference between one opponent who decides to become a personality assassin and many citizens who decide to protest against a personality?

One adversary can choose to be in one place with one means of attack at a certain point in time and if he is not detected before execution, he will probably succeed in carrying out one attack action that will last until he is stopped by the security forces. One opponent could avoid an attack because he felt a strong deterrent from the opposite security force.

Thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of citizens who gather together to demonstrate against a personality produce a common offensive and powerful force that can destroy and trample anything that stands in its way. Unlike a single opponent, a crowd of protesters will not only not be deterred by the actions of the security forces but may decide to worsen their behavior as a result. A crowd of protesters will behave and act according to the herd principle sometimes without thinking in real time about their actions and the serious consequences. Any peaceful demonstration can easily turn into a violent demonstration, it is enough for a number of demonstrators to decide to escalate the protest actions so that others will join them.

What is the response of a personal security system in a situation of a demonstration against a person?

As a general rule, when a demonstration becomes violent and the citizens who participate in it rush forward, the security forces, including the personal security system, do not have the ability to prevent the progress and its destructive results, therefore, as a general rule, the best answer against protesting citizens is not to allow the person to stay near the demonstration, in order to prevent Any chance of reaching a situation where the demonstration becomes violent when the personality is near it.

Despite this, the decision whether or not to allow the personality to stay near the demonstration will depend on the characteristics of the facility where the personality is staying, the reasons for the demonstration, the characteristics of the period, and the number of demonstrators.

When choosing a response against protesters, one must not think in the direction of who is stronger and/or rely on the fact that the security forces are armed and the protesters are not, and of course, one must not think that security actions that affect the single opponent will have the same effect on a crowd of protesters.

One or two personal security guards with all the means at their disposal during the work will never be able to prevent a crowd of protesters from reaching the personnel and the same is true in the case of an additional security force that will come to reinforce to try and assist in the confrontation. As long as the number of demonstrators is significantly greater than the number of forces security, it will not be possible to prevent access to the personality.

The incident at the barbershop in Tel Aviv took place at a time that is defined as very sensitive in advance and it is clear that the security guards who secured the Prime Minister’s wife at the beginning knew this and therefore when they saw the first protesters arrive at the front of the salon and realized that the location of the Prime Minister’s wife had been circulated on social media, they had to order her immediate evacuation from the barbershop. When they did not do this and the number of demonstrators kept increasing, it is likely that the security guards realized that they could no longer evacuate the Prime Minister’s wife by themselves and therefore they did the right thing when they asked for reinforcements of the police force. Later, the head of the Shin Bet did the right thing when he decided to send a force of security guards with armored vehicles of the Personal Security Unit of the General Security Service so that they could evacuate the Prime Minister’s wife from the barber shop unharmed.


In conclusion:

To this day, citizens who have come together to demonstrate against a personality have ended up forcing the personality to resign or flee and even leave the country and seek asylum in another country. I am not aware of any demonstrators who have reached a personality and physically harmed him/her, and despite this it is important to remember that as long as the personality remains near the demonstration, the decision whether to do so is only on the side of the demonstrators without anyone being able to prevent it from them. The unequivocal conclusion in the context of a threat from demonstrators against a person is that the best answer to ensure his/her safety is to evacuate him/her ahead of time from proximity to the demonstrators, thereby eliminating the possibility of reaching a state of physical friction with them. If the demonstrators at the barbershop in Tel Aviv had decided to escalate their violent behavior against the prime minister’s wife, the security forces around her would not have been able to prevent them from reaching her and God forbid harming her.

Remember, “that security must be maintained” while taking any action to prevent physical friction from protesters!!!

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