The Boeing 737 aircraft, operated by the Turkish AnadoluJet, was cleared to depart the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv with 160 people on board, when many passengers received a peculiar request through their iPhones’ airdrop feature.
The passengers who approved the request, received images of various plane crash sites, including a 2009 Turkish Airlines crash in Amsterdam and the 2013 wreck of the Asiana Airlines flight in San Francisco.
Disturbing photos of airline disasters prompted panic among the plane’s passengers, forcing the aircraft crew to abandon takeoff, turn around and call the police.
“The plane stopped, and the attendants asked who got the photos. After a few minutes, we were told to get off. Police showed up, so we realized there was an incident. The airport authorities told us there was a security incident, and they took all our luggage off the plan for a secondary inspection,” one passenger said.
“One woman fainted, another had a panic attack,” another passenger added.
While the authorities initially feared terrorism or a cyber-attack, it quickly became clear that the images were coming from inside the Turkish Airlines subsidiary’s plane.
The culprits were quickly identified as nine Israeli youths, around the age of 18, reportedly all from the same village in Galilee, in northern Israel, who were on board and were promptly detained for questioning by law enforcement authorities.
After a delay of several hours, the AnadoluJet 737 jet departed and eventually landed safely at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport, minus the nine troublemakers.
They youths involved in the incident could be charged with spreading false information that caused fear and panic, as the photos “could be interpreted as constituting a threat to carry out an attack,” the police said.
If convicted, under Israeli law, they could face up to three years behind bars.