Nine people were detained in Israel Tuesday after multiple passengers aboard a Turkish airline that was scheduled to depart from Israel received images of plane crashes on their phones.
Police said nine Israelis from a village in northern Israel are suspected of sending the photos “which could be interpreted as constituting a threat to carry out an attack,” according to the Times of Israel.
All of those detained are around the age of 18, police said.
The passengers alerted the flight crew, leading the pilot to head back to the gate even though it was getting ready for takeoff, Israel Airports Authority spokesman Ofer Lefler said.
“One woman fainted, another had a panic attack,” a passenger identified as Diana told Israeli media, according to the Guardian.
The Hebrew Ynet news site said that the images were sent using AirDrop, an Apple application that allows users to send files among Apple devices that are in close proximity if those devices are set to receive files, according to the BBC.
Only passengers with iPhones received the images, it said.
Global News, citing an Israeli media report, said that a passenger indicated that “most people received a request for a photo confirmation in AirDrop, some approved and some did not.”
“The plane stopped and the flight attendants asked who got the pictures,” the passenger, who was not named, said.
The plane had 160 passengers on board.
After the plane returned to the gate, all the passengers were taken off the plane. A security check was performed that included an inspection of the luggage.
Once that was done, which required a five-hour delay, passengers were allowed to return to the plane, which then safely flew to Istanbul.
Passengers were sent images of a Turkish Airlines plane that crashed in 2009, as well as a 2013 crash that took place in the U.S.
Nine passengers, from a village in northern Israel, were detained and interrogated by police for involvement in the incident that "could be construed as a terrorist act."#Israel | #Terrorismhttps://t.co/sYVpowrf6Q
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) May 10, 2022
Police said the young Israelis detained were suspected of spreading out false information that caused fear and panic.
“I am sure the police and the security authorities will find out why they did it,” Lefler said, according to the Jerusalem Post.