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Israeli Security Guards Foil Hijack Attempt


Israeli security guards have foiled an alleged attempt to hijack an Israeli airlines' flight bound for Istanbul. The jetliner landed safely in the Turkish city, with no one injured.

Alert security guards and passengers prevented a possible hijacking on a flight by Israel's national airline, El Al, originating in Tel Aviv.

The hijacker, identified by Turkey's semi-official Anatolia news agency as a 23-year-old Israeli Arab, Tawfiq Fukra, is reported to have tried to stab a stewardess and break into the cockpit, 10 minutes before the flight was due to land in Istanbul.

One passenger told Israel's Army radio that the stewardess was seen running in a terrified state from the front of the plane.

Security guards then pounced on the attacker and threw him to the floor face down with his legs spread. The man was then handcuffed by the sky marshals.

El Al flight 581 from Tel Aviv landed safely at its destination, with 170 passengers on board, all unharmed.

The suspected hijacker was taken into custody by Turkish police at Istanbul for questioning.

Following the incident, Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport was temporarily closed late Sunday, in order to re-assess the security situation and how the man reportedly managed to smuggle a pocketknife past the stringent ground checks.

No organization has so far claimed responsibility for the incident.

El Al has the tightest security of any airline in the world. It is renowned for its strict procedures, having undercover agents on every plane and armed guards at every ticket counter.

The only successful hijacking of an El Al plane was in 1968 when a flight from Rome was taken over by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and forced to land in Algiers.

There have also been attacks against the ground staff of El Al, the latest in June this year, when a gunman killed two people at the airline's counter at Los Angles International airport. The attacker was shot dead by El Al security guards.

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