Netanyahu talks to Ethiopian PM as Israel pushes for access to plane crash site
PM and other Israeli diplomats are working to get permission from Addis Ababa authorities for ZAKA team to search wreckage for bodies of Israeli victims
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday spoke on the phone with his Ethiopian counterpart as part of a diplomatic effort to secure Israeli rescue workers access to the site of a plane crash, where they hope to locate the bodies of the two Israeli victims who were on board.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Netanyahu spoke to Abiy Ahmed, and Israeli officials in Africa and Jerusalem were in contact with Ethiopian authorities about granting access to Israeli search and rescue team ZAKA.
The Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed Sunday shortly after taking off from the capital, Addis Ababa, killing 157 people, including Israelis Shimon Re’em and Avraham Matsliah.
Israel’s consul to Ethiopia, Opher Dach, said ZAKA rescue and recovery specialists had flown to Addis Ababa to “come to help.”
“According to Jewish belief, we need to bring Jewish people to burial in 24 hours, maximum 48 hours,” he told private broadcaster Citizen TV in Addis Ababa Tuesday. “We wanted to go in very quickly and start identifying everything,” even pieces of clothing. “We think everything matters.”
Most of the remains from Sunday’s crash had been gathered in a hangar, said Dach, adding: “Hopefully, we will have some more information in two days’ time.”
Forensic DNA work for identifications of the remains recovered so far has not yet begun, according to an Ethiopian Airlines spokesperson. The dead came from 35 countries.
Kenya was hardest hit by the tragedy, with 32 citizens on the ill-fated flight, followed by Canada with 18. About two dozen UN staff were among the dead.
It was the second crash of Boeing’s top-selling 737 MAX 8 passenger jet in less than six months — all 189 people on board an Indonesian Lion Air flight died last October.
Growing numbers of countries have banned the model from their airspace or grounded fleets since Sunday’s crash.
Boeing has said it has no reason to pull the popular aircraft from the skies and does not intend to issue new recommendations about the aircraft to customers.
On Tuesday, Boeing’s technical team arrived in Addis Ababa to join US, Israeli, Kenyan and other aviation experts in the investigation led by Ethiopian authorities.
Some aviation experts have warned that finding answers in the crash could take months.