Nine individuals have been arrested at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport after sending plane crash images to fellow passengers.

Nine Arrested at Ben Gurion

The plane returned to the gate after passengers received images of airline crashes via iPhone’s Airdrop feature. Subsequently, the police arrested nine Israeli citizens who were aboard the flight.

“The nine … are suspected of broadcasting images of an air disaster on the plane, causing panic and delaying the plane’s departure by several hours,”

The police said in a statement, adding that all nine suspects are currently being questioned. The offending passengers could be charged for disseminating false information, officers said. This could result in a maximum three-year prison sentence in Israel.

Airdrop used to send plane crash images in Israel Ben Gurion
Apple’s AirDrop feature was used to send the images | © CNET

AirDrop is a feature that allows iPhone users to send images to other iPhones nearby if the device settings are set to accept them.

Passenger Panic

The AnadoluJet flight, bound for Istanbul, was readying for takeoff when the images were sent. The pictures caused mass alarm when they appeared on passengers’ phone screens. A witness who was aboard the flight told Israel’s Channel 12:

“One woman fainted, another had a panic attack,”

The crew were informed, and a decision was made by the pilot to return to the gate. The pilot made the right decision, says Olef Lefler, a spokesperson for the Israel Airports Authority. After the suspects were removed, a thorough security check was carried out on luggage and passengers. Consequently, the flight took off several hours late.

Turkish Airlines
The incident occurred on an AnadoluJet flight | © Anadolujet Kurumsal

The motive for the crime is not yet known, but Lefler says:

“I am sure the police and the security authorities will find out why they did it,”

In the meantime, police are treating the incident as a potential terrorist threat.

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