Crisis Management at Ben Gurion Airport, Israel | PART 2

How the SYN-RG-Ai team managed the public sector in a far-reaching national crisis via information, enforcement and communication

In June 2021, Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, appointed SYN-RG-Ai Co-Founder, Maj. Gen. (res.) Ronny Numa, to the position of Ben Gurion Airport’s COVID Commissioner, after deeming Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport a “significant national weakness.” In his new role, Numa and a team of SYN-RG-Ai experts were asked to find an immediate solution for Ben Gurion’s international transitions system, and to build and implement a long-term national plan to effectively manage transitions during global crises and threats.

Following is an overview of the many operational tasks and initiatives immediately put into effect by the SYN-RG-Ai team led by Numa and Col. (res.) Avi Cohen.


The Challenges

In the initial phase of the plan, the SYN-RG-Ai team skillfully examined how international transitions are managed in the face of various global crises and threats. Following a detailed review process, the team concluded that international transitions had a major impact on the lives of countless citizens who were accustomed to traveling abroad several times a year. In light of the pandemic, international travel restrictions greatly impacted private sector businesses, disrupted family relationships, and all but eradicated leisure routines.

To meet these and other unprecedented challenges, the SYN-RG-Ai team decided to focus their initial efforts on information and viable information management, regulations and their enforcement, and communication and collaboration with key representatives of international airlines in Israel.


Building a Public Information Funnel

A well-planned and well-thought-out public information effort is a vitally important element in achieving successful crisis management at a national level. Even at the initial planning phase, when the SYN-RG-Ai team clearly understood the challenges of managing international transitions, public safety and security, was first and foremost. This was a vitally important and critical need – to manage the lives and livelihood of a vast majority of the population. In turn, information to the public must be distributed and managed simply and transparently.

The Results: The first phase in achieving this goal was the development and implementation of a dedicated spokesperson system, whereby SYN-RG-Ai’s international transitions team spokesperson worked closely with spokespersons from various Israeli government ministries. The spokesperson system consisted of all relevant government bodies aimed at effectively handling questions and inquiries from local media.

The second phase was the establishment of a Covid Information Center, a joint effort of all relevant government ministries, to share information on the newly-implemented international transitions with the general public.


Putting Rules and Regulations into Practice: Enforcement Efforts

When managing any large-scale national crisis, establishing and enforcing new rules and regulations for the benefit of the general public, is not only important, it’s mandatory. The way in which government authorities view and handle enforcement efforts, conveys a strong message to the public, and to the significance and seriousness of the government regarding its laws and values.

To further ensure that government regulations were met and maintained, from its initial planning phase, the SYN-RG-Ai team put a significant emphasis on the effectiveness of criminal actions carried out for quarantined passengers returning from overseas. The team also focused on the validity and reliability of medical documents presented by passengers at international transition points. In these scenarios, enforcing government regulations required the assistance of the Ministry of Homeland Security (Israeli Police) to ensure timely and effective cooperation between the relevant entities.

The Results: Several weeks after the joint enforcement team was established by SYN-RG-Ai, and following weekly situation assessments led by Numa and his team, a national enforcement operation was launched by the Israeli Police, whereby in which special emphasis was placed on enforcing quarantine rules.


Collaboration with International Airlines in Israel

The global pandemic and its effects on international air travel and air traffic quickly led to critical crisis amongst the large organizations that make up Israel’s international aviation industry. Companies employing tens of thousands of workers, were, practically overnight, at the pinnacle of the crisis, and on the verge of collapse.

The Results: To address the immediate needs of Israel’s international aviation industry, representatives from the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI), Israeli Airline Pilots Association (ISRALPA), CEOs of Israeli airlines, and representatives of foreign airlines, joined in round-table meetings led by Numa and the SYN-RG-Ai team. Working together, this joint team regularly meets to discuss and formulate viable solutions to the crisis, to the benefit of all parties involved.


In conclusion, international transitions are by far, a significant weakness in managing any crisis at a national level. While international transitions can result in the importation and spread of a virus or its variants, it can also lead to life-threatening illness, and death. But international transitions cannot, nor can ever be completely closed, as they fundamentally affect the lives of countless citizens. With the help of timely information, regulation enforcement, and open communication about safe and secure international travel, traffic at international transitions in Israel can be achieved with a tightly managed, controlled, and synchronized system.


  • How do European countries manage to deal with the Corona crisis?, Corona National Information and Knowledge Center, 12.04.2020

  • What can be learned from the management of quarantine in China? Broadcasting control and calm and reducing crowds, with the help of local authorities and private companies, Corona National Information and Knowledge Center, 29.03.2020

  • ‘Moreh Nevuchim’ to manage the Covid-19 situation in the local authorities, Magen Israel project, November 2020

SYN-RG-Ai are experts in the field of crisis management, with an emphasis on COVID-19.

Picture of Avraham (Avi) Cohen

Avraham (Avi) Cohen

Co-Founder, SYN-RG-Ai Integrative Solutions for Smart Cities management. Colonel (ret.) after 30 years as commander at IDF C5i Branch, cyber defense and Electronic Warfare.

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