Internal Security: A long journey to base

Doron Horowitz is the Director of National Security Infrastructure for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. He works to enhance security for Canada’s Jewish community by providing various services to synagogues and Jewish institutions – including training, assessments, and expert advice, as well as serving as a liaison with law enforcement authorities across the country.

Decorated for his service to Israel, Doron Horowitz flies here from Canada every year to join his Border Police unit

A little over 10 years ago, at the peak of the second intifada, Doron Horowitz was sitting in his Toronto home when he first heard about the Park Hotel bombing in Netanya.

As he watched television images of bodies and wreckage, Horowitz, a Canadian-Israeli who worked as a security consultant for the Canadian Jewish community at the time, realized that something within him had changed for good.

“I wasn’t going to sit at home and just watch this on a 30-inch screen,” he tells The Jerusalem Post this week inside a Border Police jeep patrolling the security fence west of Jerusalem.

Just days after the 2002 bombing, Horowitz flew to Israel and requested to volunteer for a unit within the Border Police. Horowitz went on to serve for six weeks in the Tulkarm area of the West Bank.

He has been back to Israel to volunteer for service every year since.

“For me, it was the only thing to do,” he says on Sunday, during his most recent trip to Israel to serve in his unit. The jeep carrying Horowitz travels along an 8.5-kilometer stretch of the security fence on a daily patrol aimed at preventing terrorists from crossing the border into Israel.

On the other side of the fence, the sunny landscape ranges from built-up urban Palestinian areas, made up of square-shaped white residential homes peppered with mosque domes, to sloping farmlands.

Horowitz was decorated twice for his service, most recently this week, for actions he performed for Israel’s security. The latest decoration was awarded him by Border Police chief Cmdr. Yoram Halevi for capturing an armed terrorist. Horowitz, 47, is reluctant to discuss the incident, and shies away from giving further details.

But he speaks with passion about what drives him to come back year after year to serve in his unit in full combat gear.

“It’s about serving something that is greater than yourself,” he explains. “It’s about serving the Israeli people – not a political ideology or politician.”

The jeep passes by the Palestinian village of Beit Iba, an area that was the scene of a shooting attack on another patrol a couple of months ago.

“This is a high risk area,” says Wissam Harp, a Druse officer who commands the patrol from the bulletproof jeeps’ passenger seat. The vehicle is driven by Idan Ardelani, who, together with Harp, serves as a career officer. Roee Bracha, a 21-year-old soldier, is completing his mandatory army service in the unit, and sits in the back seat with Horowitz.

Gesturing to the other officers, Horowitz says, “The selflessness of what they do and their love for Israel is incredible. These are the people who will protect the country no matter what.”

“At home in Toronto, I wear a suit every day and value my work. Here, too, I value my work, but I just wear a different suit.” he adds.

In Toronto, Horowitz works as the national security director for the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, a national non-profit advocacy organization.

He liaisons with Canadian law enforcement agencies, assesses threats posed by terrorism and anti-Semitism to synagogues and Jewish communities and helps draw up security policies, which include training and education.

“We are an instrument for all Jewish federations and communities, affiliated and non-affiliated, in the fields of safety, security intelligence and threat assessment,” he explains.

The jeep stops next to a bullet hole piercing a low fence on the side of the road. “There was a shooting attack here a few months ago. A guy lay in the field on the Palestinian side and opened fire on a Border Police patrol,” Harp recalls. The jeep was hit, but no injuries resulted.

The patrols also regularly encounter roadside bombs and burning tires.

Horowitz speaks of the difficulties in leaving his wife and two young girls for the dangerous mission.

“My family makes no less of a sacrifice than an Israeli family when I come here. They become Israeli in this way,” he says. “When I hear my little girl cry and ask where Abba [Daddy] is going, I feel that in this respect, I am an Israeli.”

It has been the backing of his wife that has enabled him to arrive each year, Horowitz says.

“She is a true woman of valor. She may not know everything that I’m doing here, but she knows why I come,” he adds.

Suddenly, a Palestinian taxi van drives through a field on the other side of the fence at high speed. A minute later, a second Border Police unit comes on over the radio.

“The van was carrying a potential infiltrator. We captured him,” the unit reports.

Born to an Israeli mother and a Canadian father, Horowitz lived in Canada until he was eight and then moved to Jerusalem with his family. He completed his education at a boarding school near Netanya and then served in the IDF, finishing his army service in 1987.

He moved to New York and then Canada and entered the security industry in the 1990s, serving in a broad range of security roles, including acting as the close protection detail for the captain of the French ship Archille Lauro, which was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists in 1985 in a lethal attack that killed disabled American-Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer.

As the Border Police patrol comes to an end, Horowitz looks forward to being reunited with his family in Canada and returning to work for the Jewish community, but adds that he will always remain a part of his unit.

“The professionalism and conviction of the Border Police officers is unparalleled,” he says. “When you look into their eyes, you know they will protect the Israeli people, come what may.”

::Jerusalem Post