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Computer malfunction strands thousands at Ben-Gurion Airport

Passengers returning from Passover vacations were unable to enter Israel due to a malfunction with the passport control system.

The departure hall at Ben-Gurion Airport, April 4, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
The departure hall at Ben-Gurion Airport, April 4, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

A suspected cyberattack, which on Sunday disrupted the border control system at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, turned out to be a computer malfunction.

The malfunction, which began around noon and lasted about 90 minutes, prevented thousands of passengers from being able to arrive or exit the country as the computer system could not read their passports. The long lines continued for a considerable time after the system began working again.

The incident came as many Israelis continue to return to the country after spending the Passover holiday abroad.

Video posted to social media showed passengers waiting in long lines due to the breakdown of the automatic passport readers.

The chaos at Israel’s main international gateway comes on the heels of a suspected cyberattack on Saturday that affected Tel Aviv residents with Smart Home technology installed in their homes. Users reported that on Saturday night their television screens suddenly switched to scenes of rocket launches and terrorist attacks, with the closing caption reading: “You have no security in this land.”

“All the blinds in the house went up and down non-stop, and the electricity also went on and off non-stop for about an hour,” a Tel Aviv resident told Channel 13.

On Friday, the hacker group Anonymous Sudan claimed responsibility for a cyberattack that struck banks, the post office, the electric company and the Red Alert app that warns Israelis of incoming rockets.

Friday’s attack was timed to coincide with al-Quds Day—an event initiated by Iran that calls for the destruction of Israel.

“Message to the Palestinian people: We support you with everything we can do and we will continue to attack Israel electronically and we will never stop,” Anonymous Sudan said on its Telegram account.

In another Telegram message directed at Israel, the group said that the attacks were “just a camouflage because we withdrew very sensitive data related to some companies, some government agencies and banks…and it will be leaked in due time.”

Earlier this month, Anonymous Sudan took responsibility for a cyberattack that temporarily brought down the websites of Israeli universities.

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