Israel issues hijack alert to all incoming airlines

February 22nd, 2008 - 6:46 pm ICT by admin  

Jerusalem, Feb 22 (Xinhua) Israel has ordered all carriers heading for the country to tighten security measures against potential terror attacks to avenge the killing of Hezbollah leader Imad Mugniyah, media reports said Friday. According Israel’s leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, the ministry of transportation issued an instruction to all airlines flying into the Jewish state to strengthen their security measures to avoid any terror or hijack attempts.

The instruction came following growing concerns that the Lebanese terror group, Hezbollah, might try to launch a retaliatory attack against Israel, which the group held responsible for the killing of its military leader.

Danny Shenar, head of security in the Transportation Ministry, has asked all foreign and domestic airlines heading for Israel to require all passengers to remain seated half an hour before landing, when planes approach a distance of 180 miles from the country’s shores. Until now, passengers have only been instructed not to leave their seats at a distance of some 90 miles from Israel, or 15 minutes before landing.

Moreover, airlines have also been asked to instruct their pilots to seal the cockpit 30 minutes before landing, so as not to allow terrorists to take control of the plane.

The transportation ministry officials explained that the new decree has been issued in light of fears that terrorists might succeed in infiltrating a plane, and attempt to take control over the aircraft only in the final stage of the flight, after it has reached Israeli airspace.

A hijacking at this stage would make it difficult for security forces to respond in time to curb the attack, the report said.

“It takes several minutes to deploy fighter jets towards a hijacked plane. Therefore, the final stage of the flight is extremely crucial,” an aviation security expert said.

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