Ben-Gurion Airport security went on emergency alert early Tuesday morning, when two Palestinian men driving a stolen truck broke through the airport’s security checkpoint and refused to come to a stop.

The incident began at 3:30 a.m., when the trailer truck – which police said had been stolen in Beit Dagan – came barreling through the checkpoint at the entrance to the airport.

Police said the two men, residents of Jenin and Kalkilya, had refused to yield and had continued down the approach to the airport, driving through a second improvised roadblock and attempting to run over a security guard.

The truck finally came to a halt only 200 meters from the entrance to Terminal 3, after it ran over spikes that security personnel had put down and after a security guard fired shots that hit the tires, Ben- Gurion officials said.

The two men then fled the truck on foot, but were arrested shortly afterward. They faced a remand extension on Tuesday.

Police believe that the car thieves did not intend to enter the airport complex but made a mistake coming off the highway.

Police sappers who were called to the scene checked the vehicle, but found no explosives or firearms.

The emergency situation led to the delay of at least 10 flights. However, not long after the incident it was business as usual at the airport.

Following the incident, Ben- Gurion Airport manager Shmuel Zakai praised security personnel, saying they had prepared for such incidents and that their “cool-headed response” was what had led to the situation ending without loss of life.

Police noted Tuesday morning that the last terror attack at Ben-Gurion was the “Lod Massacre” in 1972, when three members of the Japanese Red Army gunned down 26 people.

According to Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Prof. Alan Kirschenbaum, the close call should not be cause for celebration.

“It was only after the fact that they learned that the truck wasn’t full of explosives,” said Kirschenbaum, the head of Kirschenbaum consulting and the initiator and coordinator of the Bemosa consortium – a Europe-wide research project aimed at improving security in airports.

He noted that the two men “were able to drive the truck all the way there, and if they had used different tires, possibly ones that would resist the bullets, they would have made it there. If these were highly motivated terrorists, then they probably would have done their deed.”

He added that while he didn’t know what the specific emergency procedures at Ben- Gurion Airport were, and while airport personnel may have followed the rules well, “sometimes it’s just sheer luck.”

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