Weeks ahead of deadly blasts, Israeli security assessment found Brussels airport had ‘significant shortcomings’
An Israeli airport security guard patrols with a dog in Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Israel reportedly warned Belgian officials of the numerous security failings at the Brussels airport weeks before a series of deadly bomb blasts ripped through the site on Tuesday.
Israeli security officials tasked with assessing safety measures at various international airports that operate flights to Tel Aviv found “significant shortcomings” at Zaventem Airport, Channel 2 reported Wednesday.
The report came amid widespread criticism of Belgium’s approach to immigration and security and reports that Brussels officials had specific information about the planned attacks.
On Wednesday, Turkey revealed that Brussels attacker Ibrahim El Bakraoui was detained and deported back to Europe last year.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Belgian authorities failed to confirm the suspect’s jihadist links and released him despite Ankara’s warnings that he was “a foreign fighter.”
Belgium identified Ibrahim El Bakraoui as one of two men who blew themselves up in the Zaventem airport departure hall while his brother Khalid struck at the Maalbeek metro station in the attacks on the symbolic heart of Europe.
Some 32 people were killed in the attacks and over 200 injured.
Belgium said on Wednesday that the Bakraoui brothers were connected to the deadly Paris terror attacks in November of last year.
In the wake of the attacks, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz on Wednesday criticized Belgian complacency in the face of rising terrorism.
Katz said the Belgians were too busy “eating chocolate and enjoying life” to properly identify terror as Islamist, and would not be able to combat the phenomenon until it did so.
In a similar vein, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin on Tuesday accused Brussels of “naivety” over the spread of Islamist extremism in their country.
Both Katz and Sapin were criticized for their remarks, and some say the country is being unfairly singled out and the timing of the criticism is crass.
Belgium has faced disparagement in the past over its security failings, particularly in the wake of November’s Paris attacks that were largely planned in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, considered a hotbed of Islamist radicalism.