A state of emergency was declared at Ben-Gurion Airport early Thursday after a car thief attempted to break through a security checkpoint, according to Israeli media reports.
Security forces instructed passengers in the main Terminal 3 to lay down on the floor, and all entrances and exits to the airport were closed.
The thief, a resident of Shechem (Nablus) in northern Samaria, reportedly drove to the airport gates in a manner that endangered security guards, who responded by shooting at the tires and deploying roadblocks until the stolen vehicle was stopped.
The car thief received medical treatment and was transferred to the police for investigation. The airport returned to its normal routine.
“We didn’t know exactly what was going on. Everyone was running in panic and shouting. There was a moment of hysteria and stress and everyone lay down. I arrived with a group of American tourists who didn’t understand what was happening, I had to explain to them that it is a security incident that is happening and they are supposed to lie on the floor,” passenger Ziv Hait told Channel 12.
“We took shelter. The crews sat under the tables at the check-in stations. The event ended after 20 minutes, we received instructions to get up and go back to normal,” Hait added. “In my estimation, the incident did not cause drastic delays in takeoffs and landings.”
Passenger Avi Ifergan told Ynet that he had returned from the United States and was waiting for his luggage while his wife and three children were in the arrivals hall when “suddenly security guards rushed in and said there was an emergency.
“My wife called and said they heard gunfire outside. Everyone was in a panic. We lay on the floor for about 15 minutes—it was very tense and uncomfortable. I understood that the airport’s checkpoint had been breached and that the shots were likely aimed at the vehicle’s tires. Now it’s over, I’ve managed to calm down,” he said.