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November 17, 2002
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Arab Muslim tries to hijack Israeli airplane

Ha'aretz (www.haaretzdaily.com) reports that an Israeli Arab Muslim tried to hijack an El Al (Israel's airline) plane:

Alert security guards and passengers prevented a possible hijacking Sunday evening of an El Al flight from Israel en route to Istanbul after an Israeli Arab tried to stab a stewardess and rush the cockpit. [...]

The man was seized and handcuffed and taken for questioning in Istanbul, following which he will be turned over to Israeli security. The plane, with its 170 passengers, landed safely in Istanbul.

"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 on the plane told 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.

There are about one million Arab Muslims who are citizens of Israel and have the right to vote and political parties of their own - see the Democracy page for details.

Unfortunately in the last few months a certain number of these Arab Muslims, citizens of Israel, turned to terrorism. I copy the full article below.

Guards thwart attempt to hijack El Al flight to Istanbul
By Amos Harel, Aluf Benn and Zohar Blumenkrantz,
Ha'aretz Correspondents and Agencies
http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/
ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=231601&contrassID=1&
subContrassID=5&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y


Alert security guards and passengers prevented a possible hijacking Sunday evening of an El Al flight from Israel en route to Istanbul after an Israeli Arab tried to stab a stewardess and rush the cockpit. It is still unclear whether the man was simply an eccentric or if he did indeed intend to take over the plane.

As a result, Ben-Gurion International Airport was temporarily closed Sunday night in order to re-assess the security situation and to determine how the man managed to smuggle a pocketknife past the stringent ground security checks. The airport was re-opened a short while later.

The man was seized and handcuffed and taken for questioning in Istanbul, following which he will be turned over to Israeli security. The plane, with its 170 passengers, landed safely in Istanbul.

The flight, 581, took off from Israel at 8:15 P.M. local time, and eventually landed in Istanbul at 10:00 P.M.

"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 on the plane told 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.

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 thwarted the attack.

An Istanbul airport official said one "terrorist" was being held in custody.

El Al is widely regarded as the best protected airline in the world, but also one of the most threatened. From the late 1960s into the 1980s, El Al planes and passengers were subjected to shooting attacks, hijacking and bombing attempts.

El Al's formidable security includes armed guards at check-in, on-board
marshals and extensive searches of luggage. Passengers are told to arrive
three hours ahead of flights to allow enough time for the security checks.

On the Fourth of July, an Egyptian immigrant, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, opened fire at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles Airport, killing two people before he was shot dead by an airline security guard.

El Al emergency number: 1800 222011

Posted by David Melle at November 17, 2002 06:10 PM
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