A plane that was about to take off for Turkey from Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday returned to the terminal.
The pilot aborted the flight after passengers said they had received photos of aviation disasters on their mobile devices. Israeli authorities believe they were sent by nine people on board using the iPhone AirDrop function.
The incident took place on an AnadoluJet flight to Istanbul and was not a cyberattack over the Internet, Airports Authority spokesman Ofer Lefler said.
The suspects were passengers on the flight and are Israeli citizens, according to the police, he said. They were removed and could be prosecuted for disseminating false information, he added. The offense carries a maximum three-year prison term in Israel.
“I am sure the police and the security authorities will find out why they did it,” Lefler told Channel 12.
Passengers alarmed by the images informed the flight crew, and the pilot made the right call in heading back to the gate, he said.
“One woman fainted, another had a panic attack,” a passenger identified as Diana told Channel 12.
The plane took off a few hours later after a security check of the plane, the luggage and those on board, Lefler said.
AirDrop, which he said was the method used for the file transfer, allows an iPhone user to send images to other devices in the vicinity if they are set to accept such input.