Nine Israelis were arrested on suspicion of using cellphones to share images of plane crashes with other passengers Tuesday, causing panic and forcing their flight to be aborted, authorities said.
The incident happened shortly before the AnadoluJet passenger plane had been readying for take-off for Istanbul from Tel Aviv, the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) said.
“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.
“All nine suspects are being questioned by police,” they said in a statement, adding the offence could be interpreted as a “terrorist threat”.
The IAA said those detained had been ejected from the flight before it was able to depart around four hours later.
“They used an Apple program, AirDrop, allowing them to share photos on phones around them,” IAA spokesman Ofer Lefler told AFP.
AirDrop is a feature on Apple devices such as iPhones that allows users to share files wirelessly with people in near proximity.
Tuesday’s incident is the second such scare at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv within weeks.
On April 28, airport security staff found an unexploded shell in the luggage of an American family who had taken it as a souvenir while on holiday in Israel.
The discovery caused panic in the departures hall, and people were seen taking cover and running in all directions in videos shared on social media.
The family was allowed to board their flight as planned.