Somalia: An Israeli Plane Escaped Hijacking Over Somalia

Mogadishu, Somalia — Hostile elements" attempted to take over the communication network of an El Al plane flying from Phuket to Ben-Gurion Airport on Saturday night and divert it from its destination, Israel's national airline confirmed on Sunday. The plane reached its destination safely.

This is the second time such an incident has occurred in the past week, according to a KAN Reshet B report.

The incident took place over an area where the Iran-backed Houthis are active, although sources in Somalia told KAN that a group in the de-facto state Somaliland, which recently signed an agreement with Ethiopia, is responsible for the attempted attack.

Crew noticed the attack and thwarted it

During the incident, instructions were given to the crew that were different from their set route, raising concerns that someone was trying to damage the plane or lead it to dangerous areas, maybe even to conduct a kidnapping.

The crew disobeyed the instructions and quickly switched to alternative means of communication while also checking the data against other air traffic controllers and realizing that they were being misled.

A source in El Al told Walla that "in Somalia, there have been communication interruptions all week, not only for El Al planes, and the official authorities have issued instructions to all pilots that as soon as this happens with a certain frequency, not to listen to the instructions and to switch to another communication method."

The source told Walla that the hostile elements contacted El Al pilots twice: Once on the flight between Phuket and Ben-Gurion and once on a flight to Bangkok.

"Our pilots are instructed on how to deal with this incident, such as the problematic frequency, and how to handle the flight professionally when it happens," explained the source.

A statement at El Al stressed that "the disturbances are not aimed at El Al planes and that this is not a security incident. The disruption did not affect the normal course of the flight thanks to the professionalism of the pilots who used the alternative means of communication and allowed the flight to continue on the planned route."


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