What was a Border Police surveillance vehicle doing at a Tel Aviv social protest?
Social activists were surprised to see a military-looking Humvee in the streets of Tel Aviv, considering that its usual place is on the border with Lebanon.
Social activists participating in Saturday night's demonstration were surprised to see a military-looking Humvee in the streets of Tel Aviv.
As they marched from Habima Square to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, some of the demonstrators noticed that as part of the security arrangements, what seemed as a military Hummer truck with surveillance equipment, was on the scene.
The vehicle, known in the IDF as "Raccoon", or by its English name "Stalker", was introduced in 2001 and is mainly used along Israel's border with Lebanon. As it turns out, the vehicle was actually operated by the police during the protest.
The surveillance equipment installed in the Stalker, which was developed by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, uses an optical camera along with a radar. The camera pole installed in the vehicle can be raised to a height of nine meters.
The system, which can operate in almost every climate condition, uses automatic sensors to identify and scan suspicious activity. It is able to detect people at a distance of up to 10 kilometers, or up to 20 kilometers for larger objects.
In recent years the police has increased the use of the system, mainly in criminal cases. The police mostly uses the Stalker in towns that have been the victims of break-ins. The Raccoon can be placed in a remote location, observe the town, and contact undercover forces in case of any criminal incident.
Although the police are using the system in demonstrations, it is rarely seen in urban areas.
The police has previously stated that it has been using the system, and have also put it on display at exhibitions and events, including on Israel's Independence Day.