NINE ISRAELIS WERE arrested on suspicion of using cellphones to share pictures of plane crashes with fellow passengers on Tuesday, causing panic and forcing their flight to be aborted, authorities said.
The incident occurred shortly before the AnadoluJet passenger plane was preparing to take off from Tel Aviv to Istanbul, the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) said.
“The nine … are suspected of transmitting images of an air disaster on the plane, causing panic and delaying the plane’s departure for several hours,” police said.
“The nine suspects are being questioned by the police,” they said in a statement, adding that the crime could be interpreted as a “terrorist threat.”
The IAA said the detainees had been kicked off the flight before it could depart some four hours later.
“They used an Apple program, AirDrop, which allowed them to share photos on phones around them,” IAA spokesman Ofer Lefler told AFP.
AirDrop is a feature of Apple devices, such as iPhones, that allows users to wirelessly share files with people nearby.
Tuesday’s incident is the second such scare at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv in weeks.
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On April 28, airport security personnel found an unexploded shell in the luggage of an American family who had brought it as a souvenir while vacationing in Israel.
The find caused panic in the departure lounge and videos shared on social media showed people taking cover and running in all directions.
The family was allowed to board their flight as planned.
© AFP 2022