Israeli Airline Survives ‘Spoofing’ While Traveling From Thailand; Radio Comm Disrupted Over Somalia

Israel’s national airline announced that “hostile elements” attempted to seize control of the communication network of an El Al aircraft traveling from Phuket to Ben-Gurion Airport, aiming to divert it from its intended course. 

The alleged incident took place on February 17 and is believed to be the second such attempt in the past week, reports in local Israeli media stated, without providing details on the previous incident. Nonetheless, the El Al aircraft reached its destination safely and without any untoward incident.

Although sources in Somalia told an Israeli radio group that a group in the de-facto state of Somaliland, which recently inked an agreement with Ethiopia, is responsible for the attempted attack, the incident occurred over a region where the Houthis, who are backed by Iran, are operating.

The crew received orders throughout the event that deviated from their prearranged course, which sparked concerns that someone was attempting to cause damage to the aircraft, taking it into dangerous airspace, or even attempting a hijack.

The crew defied orders and changed to another channel of communication as soon as they realized they were being manipulated. They also verified the information with other air traffic controllers for further safety. 

However, after a volley of different conspiracy theories were floated, El Al said that the incident that occurred on its flight from Israel to Thailand over Somali airspace was not a security incident and was not limited to the Israeli flag carrier.

The airline said in a statement that radio communications during flights over Somalia had been disrupted and that the local government had also issued a warning.

The statement further stated, “The disruptions are not aimed at [El Al] planes, and it is not a security incident — the disruption did not affect the continuation of the flight.”

An unknown source in El Al told the media 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.”

A local Israeli publication was informed by a source that El Al pilots were contacted by hostile elements twice: once on a flight from Phuket to Ben-Gurion and another time during a flight to Bangkok. 

Our Fleet | EL AL
Image for Representation.

“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.

As EurAsian Times reported earlier, Hackers are proving their capabilities by breaking challenging firewalls around the globe which poses a massive risk to global civil aviation besides others. It is done via process called Spoofing.

GPS Spoofing Emerges ‘Biggest Threat’ To Global Civil Aviation; 50+ Cases Reported In Middle East

As of date, the most vulnerable platforms are airliners, which can be spoofed by a technologically alive terrorist organization and/or a hostile nation. Military, too, will have to evolve procedures/tactics to identify the signal interference. Identifying jammers is far simpler than identifying spoofing.

The airline incident also ended up creating a widespread frenzy on the internet as El Airlines has a history of hijacks that have been attributed to Palestinian citizens. Three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) hijacked El Al Flight 426, an El Al passenger plane, on July 23, 1968, starting a string of hijackings by the PFLP.

As soon as the latest airline incident was reported, several sources noted that it may be a conspiracy of the Houthi rebels that are supported by Iran and have been carrying out attacks on Western and Israeli vessels in the Red Sea.

The Houthis have repeatedly warned Israel of dire consequences if it did not stop its bombing campaign and invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Currently, the Houthis remain vested in a conflict with the US-led coalition in the Red Sea. While the Yemen-based militant group has been targeting Western vessels on the regular, the US-led forces have been carrying out retaliatory and self-defense strikes aimed at dissuading the Iran-backed militant group. However, the Houthis have not directly engaged Israel in recent times. 

Israel continues to attack the Gaza Strip despite calls for a ceasefire echoing around the world. Making the situation worse, it has indicated that a ground invasion of Rafah in the Gaza Strip would be carried out by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) if Hamas failed to free the Israeli hostages.

No End To Gaza War

Benny Gantz, a member of the Israeli war cabinet, has threatened to start an offensive in Rafah unless Hamas releases all captives held in Gaza by March 10. For the first time, Israel has stated when it would send troops into the crowded southern city of Gaza.

Around 1.5 million Palestinians are currently seeking refuge in Rafah, and there is mounting international opposition to a potential attack against the city.

Before this, the UN public health organization announced that an Israeli raid had caused a major hospital in Gaza to close. Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis went out of action, causing mayhem in the region.

To evaluate the situation, the World Health Organization (WHO) claimed it had been denied access to the Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, north of Rafah. Last week, the IDF broke into the compound after receiving intelligence that Hamas was holding prisoners inside.

Additionally, defying calls for a peaceful resolution and a potential “two-state solution,” a statement vehemently condemning any plan for Palestinian statehood was overwhelmingly accepted by the Israeli cabinet.

“Israel utterly rejects international diktats regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians,” the cabinet decision read. “A settlement, if it is to be reached, will come about solely through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions.”

In the war that Israel declared after the October 7 attack by Hamas, about 29,000 people have died in Gaza, with most casualties being that of civilians. According to reports, about 14,000 children in Gaza have been killed in the continuing air strikes and artillery attacks by the IDF.

Israel has been taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for what has been blatantly called a “genocide,” but that has failed to dissuade it from launching further attacks. The country’s war cabinet has unabashedly indicated that the hostilities would not cease shortly, despite its allies like the US voicing concerns and calling for a peaceful solution.