Hijack attempt of El-Al Tel-Aviv-Istanbul flight foiled
Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport was temporarily closed late Sunday night after an eccentric Israeli-Arab attempted to rush the cockpit of an El-Al flight to the Turkish city of Istanbul.
The suspected hijack attempt of flight number 581 was foiled when the plane's security guards and passengers overcame the man after he tried to stab a stewardess.
However, the circumstances of the incident are not yet fully clear. The man was seized and handcuffed. The plane, with its 170 passengers, landed safely in Istanbul.
The plane took off from Israel at 8:15 pm (local time), and eventually landed in Istanbul at 10:00 pm. The incident took place approximately 15 minutes prior to the intended landing, according to Ha’aretz daily.
"We heard people saying there was fighting and half a minute later it became clear that from row five or six a man ran amok towards the pilot's cabin, attacked a stewardess and tried to enter the cockpit," an Israeli passenger onboard told Israel army radio.
"We saw a stewardess running like crazy from the front of the place to the business section...she was terrified," said the passenger, identified as Menachem. Security guards "threw him to the floor with his legs spread and his face to the floor. The passengers were hysterical but the flight attendants were very cool, they calmed us down", he said.
Meanwhile, Director-General of the Israel Airports Authority, Gabi Ophir, has launched an investigation into the incident in order to determine how the man managed to smuggle a pocketknife past the ground security guards. Amos Shapira, Director-General of El-Al, personally congratulated the security guards on board who prevented the attack.
The return flight from Istanbul, scheduled to leave at 11:30 pm is currently delayed, but no other disruptions are reported at the airport.
An Istanbul airport official said one "terrorist" was being held in custody, following which he will be handed over to Israeli security authorities. (Albawaba.com)
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