Ben Gurion Airport, Israel: How to Cause Mass Panic in a Foreign Country.

Faye Higbee

American tourists have a reputation, and it’s not always good. The term “ugly American” as a cliché has been around for a very long time. But when it’s not making loud, obnoxious statements, it’s sometimes doing totally stupid things…like picking up a live mortar round and bringing it to Ben Gurion Airport as a “souvenir,” for example.

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An American family approached the security area at Ben Gurion Airport, removed the mortar shell from their backpack, and asked if they could put it in their luggage. The security agent immediately called for an evacuation of the area. However, another passenger standing nearby misunderstood the security agent, and started shouting, “terrorists shooting!” [There are benefits to actually learning a language instead of just a word or two here and there].

The misunderstanding caused a panic. People ran through the terminal screaming, fell on the floor, left their luggage, and one man was injured when he stumbled over the conveyor belt before the evacuation was called off.

A 32-year-old man identified as Uri injured himself during the panic and was taken to a hospital.

“I was at the airport waiting for an hour in line until I got to the check-in counter, and suddenly at a radius of five meters people started running away and left luggage,” he told YNet, the BBC reported.

“The fear was that someone is spraying bullets. I understood that I too have to escape, so I ran towards the check-in, I stumbled on a conveyor belt… and flew a distance of six meters,” he said.

New York Post

The family had been hiking on the Golan Heights, and their son found the unexploded munition. Why they took it as a souvenir is anyone’s guess, but apparently they don’t watch many war documentaries on the History channel. Areas of the Golan Heights known to have unexploded munitions are reportedly “clearly marked and fenced off.” Somebody didn’t get the memo.

The mortar shell was taken away. The family was grilled by security agents and allowed to board the plane. They were apparently unaware of the danger from the round. So if you plan to travel overseas, a little research would be good before you leave. And if it’s a known conflict zone like Israel, please pay attention to the signs.


Featured screenshot of the Ben Gurion airport panic and the munition via Twitter

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