Security clears Ben Gurion departure hall after tourists reveal unexploded munition in a suitcase; man sent to hospital after fleeing on luggage conveyor belt, falling off
Panic broke out in the departure hall at Israel’s main airport on Thursday after a family of American tourists tried to board a plane with an artillery shell in their luggage.
The Airports Authority said security officers sounded an emergency alert and ordered the evacuation of the area when they discovered the unexploded shell.
The Airports Authority said the family had traveled to northern Israel’s Golan Heights, where one of the children found the old artillery shell.
The region was the scene of fierce fighting in the 1967 Six-Day War, and remnants of the conflict, such as land mines and barbed wire, are scattered in the area.
The Airports Authority released a photo of the rusted ordnance, wrapped in a plastic bag.
The authority said the family brought the shell in their luggage to Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv, apparently as a souvenir.
“When they arrived to check their luggage, they showed the piece of the shell to security,” the Airports Authority said. “Since it was a piece of a shell, the evacuation of the area was announced.”
Panic broke out among travelers in the departure terminal as the evacuation announcement sparked fears of an attack.
Israel has been on edge after a series of deadly terror attacks around the country killed 14 people.
A 32-year-old Israeli man climbed onto the luggage conveyor belt, ran on top of it, and fell down. He was injured and evacuated to a hospital for treatment.
“There was a lot of shouting. I just felt that I had to run for my life,” he told Ynet.
Video from the scene showed travelers running from the departure hall, shouting, lying on the floor, and ducking under tables for cover, as an announcement asked them to “slowly” evacuate the area.
After security ruled out any danger, travelers were allowed back into the terminal.
The family was allowed to board the plane back to the US after a short investigation, the authority said.
They were not allowed to take the shell with them.