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Device to provide early warning of 9/11-style hijackings

Starting next year, Israel will require all airlines flying into the country to use a new security system designed to prevent al-Qaida-style hijackings.

Whether your pilgrimage tour makes it to Bethlehem or ends up as Mediterranean fish bait may all depend on a credit-card-size keypad designed to prevent hijacked airliners from entering Israeli airspace.

Starting next year, Israel will require all airlines flying into its airports to use a new Security Code System device designed to prevent a 9/11-style attack by identifying commandeered planes before they enter the country's airspace, Reuters reported last week.

Elbit Systems, the company that developed the device, declined to go into technological and procedural detail. But judging by the keypad, it's possible that the pilot would be required to enter a numerical code. There is also something that looks like a microphone suggesting voice recognition, according to a Reuters reporter allowed in for a peek at Israel's Transport Ministry.

Whatever the test, pilots who flunk it or send a secret Mayday will be ordered to turn back. If they ignore the warning, they and everyone on board become fair game, which means-worst-case scenario-you and aunt Edna get splashed.

You can relax on at least one count. "You can't bluff this system," the Transportation Ministry's security chief told Reuters. "It provides a higher level of confidence that the aircraft is being controlled by the right people, which are a huge asset in terms of avoiding unnecessary security alerts."

He added the system knows the difference between a "classic hostage-taking hijacking and a 9/11-style hijacking."

So there's still a chance you'll deplane in one piece.