Dealing with Suspicious Items – Hefetz Hashud
Hebrew: חפץ חשוד
What is Hefetz Hashud?
The phrase “Hefetz Hashud” literally means “suspicious item” and it refers to any parcel or item that has been abandoned or is unaccompanied, whether accidentally or on purpose, by its owner. Hefetz Hashud can be identified anywhere; on a bus, a train, in the park, the supermarket, in the street or in any public or private place.
It does not matter if it is a child’s schoolbag or if you can clearly see the contents of the parcel and make out a loaf of bread and a chocolate bar – any unaccompanied parcel is suspicious.
Some of Israel’s security precautions may be annoying and overwhelming to visitors and new-comers. You need to just accept them and cooperate with the authorities. Whether a security guard at the school or the shopping center insists on searching your bag or makes you walk through an x-ray machine, it is for your security and safety and it must be accepted. Following these procedures has prevented terror attacks and other dangerous situations in the past. Any attempt to defy them will be treated with suspicion and will result in forceful action taken by the authorities.
- Israel national security
- Dealing with terrorist attacks and events
- Preparing for an earthquakes
- Serving in the Israel Defense Force – IDF
- Useful Hebrew words and phrases on this and other topics – with English and transliterations
What should I do if I see a suspicious item?
- Remain calm
- Children should inform a responsible adult
- Do not approach or touch the item whatsoever
- Immediately contact the authorities, owners of establishments, security guards, police etc.
- Tell them the exact location of the item and provide a precise description of the article.
- Back away and keep a safe distance.
What will happen next?
- Within a few minutes of being informed, a special police unit will arrive on the scene.
- The police will clear the area of passers by. In the street, the traffic will be stopped and the road closed off.
- If the suspicious object is on public transport, you will be evacuated
- The area will be sealed off
- The item will be checked, removed and neutralized
- After inspection, it may be neutralized by removal or may be blown up with specialized equipment.
It may take as much as half-an-hour to deal with the “hefetz hashud”. It may be annoying and it may make you late for an appointment or for work, you will just have to wait patiently until an all-clear is given. People in Israel accept the situation for what it is. Hopefully, the suspicious object was a few grocery items in a forgotten shopping bag and was of no danger to anyone, but you cannot be sure, and it is not worth taking a chance.
This article is for you general information only and must not be substituted for any instructions given by the authorities