The Boeing 757 on the ground in Istanbul after a foiled hijacking attempt
Guards foil hijacking of El Al jet by Israeli Arab over Turkey
By israelinsider staff November 18, 2002
Twenty minutes before landing, an Israeli Arab hijacker tried to stab a flight attendant with a pocket knife and storm the cockpit. He was overpowered by El Al security guards, who wrestled him to the floor. Flight 581 from Tel Aviv to Istanbul, a Boeing 757, had 170 passengers. None were hurt and the plane landed safely.
"A man ran amok towards the pilot's cabin, attacked a stewardess and tried to enter the cockpit," an Israeli passenger on the plane told Army Radio.
"We saw a stewardess running like crazy from the front of the place to the business section...she was completely pale, hysterical," said the passenger, Menachem Binat, a journalist from Bnei Brak. Security guards grabbed the would-be hijacker, "threw him to the floor with his legs spread and his face to the floor. The passengers were hysterical but the flight attendants were very cool, they calmed us down", he said.
The attacker was identified as Tewfik Foudra, 23, an Arab with Israeli citizenship. It was unclear how he managed to smuggle aboard a pocket knife. Ben-Gurion Airport was shut down to assess the security breach, and then reopened a short time later.
Gabi Ophir, Director-General of the Israel Airports Authority, launched an investigation to determine how the attacker apparently managed to smuggle a pocketknife past the ground security guards. Amos Shapira, Director-General of El Al, called to congratulate personally the inflight security guards who foiled the attack.
Passengers were delayed for an hour on the ground in Istanbul, as security personnel screened them to ensure that there were no additional terrorists aboard. The failed hijacker was interrogated on the ground by Turkish and Israeli security officials.