Scare on the runway: an Israeli passenger was shocked Friday morning to find a grenade safety catch aboard his plane at Ben Gurion Airport.
The flight's 143 passengers were evacuated from the Ukrainian International Airlines plane immediately by airport security officials upon discovery of the rogue weapons part. All 143 passengers and their baggage were then subjected to additional security checks on-site.
Ofer Lefler, a spokesman for the Israel Airports Authority, told Channel 2 News that "the passengers were transferred to the transit hall for new security checks and their luggage was unloaded. A sappers team scanned the interior of the plane and found no unusual findings."
"For us it is a serious event, so all operations are done to rule out any possible security incident on the flight," Lefler noted. The plane has yet to take off, but Lefler believed that the flight would continue without incident at about 9:30 a.m. local time.
The airport released a statement confirming that flight schedules would remain unchanged over the incident.
It is unclear whether or not the incident is related to the ongoing unrest in Ukraine, which has seen tens of thousands of protesters flood Kiev's Independence Square over the past several weeks in severe clashes with police forces. Concerns have been raised about the prominence of neo-Nazi and extremist gropps in those protests.
Anti-Semitic and racist violence is not uncommon in the country, and two recent attacks - an assault on a Jewish teacher and the stabbing of a yeshiva student have raised fears that racist groups could take advantage of the ongoing chaos to launch further attacks.