American tourists bring ‘souvenir’ artillery shell to Israel airport, prompting bomb scare

FILE: People wait in the departures hall of Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, November 28, 2021. (Photo by Gil Cohen Magen/Xinhua via Getty Images)

A bomb threat has sparked panic at Israel’s airport after an American family showed up with an unexploded artillery shell they had found in the Golan Heights and had intend to bring back as a souvenir.

Videos circulating online showed passengers taking cover, running and screaming in the departures hall of Ben-Gurion International Airport on Thursday.

The airport authority said security officers raised an alert when they discovered the unexploded shell. At least one person was injured after trying to run on a treadmill, he added.

Normal operations resumed after the shell was safely removed shortly thereafter. The family was released after questioning.

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Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 war, and the area saw heavy fighting during that war and another Arab-Israeli war six years later. Areas known to contain unexploded ordnance are clearly marked and fenced.

Israel annexed the strategic plateau in 1981 and today it is a major tourist draw, with vineyards, popular hiking spots and a small ski resort with a short season. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced in December his intention to strengthen Israeli settlement in the territory.

The Trump administration has broken with decades of US policy aimed at recognizing Israel’s claim to the Golan, making the United States the only country to do so.

Israel says it needs the Golan, which has stunning views of Lebanon and Syria, for its security. Syria has long insisted that all territory be returned to it in any peace deal.

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