Israelis returning home from Madrid on Wednesday were shocked when the pilot aboard Iberia Airlines flight 3316 announced that in a few minutes the plane would land in Tel Aviv, in "Palestine."
The startling announcement, delivered in Spanish, was followed by a similar in message in English, albeit without the mention of "Palestine" or of Israel.
"I was a little shocked," Lior, a passenger aboard the plane, told Channel 2. "Everyone began to whisper, we were simply in shock. I don't understand why he said that. We live in the State of Israel and he was supposed to say Israel."
"It's not nothing that he didn't say [Israel] in English," Lior added. "It was intentional – especially in these tense days."
One passenger immediately sent a letter of complaint to Iberia, which operates a number of popular flights between Israel and Spain.
"My family and I were terrible offended," the passenger wrote. "It was not at all acceptable and has done a disservice to your company."
A spokeswoman for Iberia responded to Channel 2's request for comment with an apology, claiming the captain had made a "mistake" which was "corrected " when he made the announcement in English.
"We are very sorry and wish to apologize to the passengers," the spokeswoman said. "We have been flying to Tel Aviv for a long time and we know the city is in the State of Israel and there is no doubt about that. We even promoted tourism in Tel Aviv in our magazine."
"We will speak with the flight crew on the issue and open an investigation into the matter. The captain will not fly to Tel Aviv in the near future due to the incident."