NO surprise: Iranians float idea Israel responsible for Egypt Air crash

by Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/Christian Hartmann)An EgyptAir plane, assuring the following flight from Paris to Cairo after flight MS804 disappeared from radar, taxies on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France, May 19, 2016.

TEHRAN (Christian Examiner) – True to form, the Iranian semi-official FARS News Agency has claimed many Egyptians believe Israel was behind the crash of an EgyptAir A320 in the Mediterranean Sea last week.

According to the Islamist news agency, "the Egyptian media" have speculated that the crash might have been the result of "Israeli fighter jets' exercises in the region."

"Al-Mesri al-Youm newspaper wrote that in its report of the plane's crash, Greece hasn't mentioned Israeli warplanes' wargames in the Southern parts of Crete Island which was revealed earlier this month by Tel Aviv, adding that the maneuvers had started one night before the Egyptian plane's crash," the FARS report said in broken English.

The paper also reportedly claimed Israel began maneuvers using Greek airspace on May 18 just before the plane went down, FARS said.

Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry confirmed in a statement on May 19 that the plane was sending automated distress signals 175 miles from the Egyptian coast just before it vanished from radar. Those signals are emitted by the plane's avionics system, independent of the pilot's actions.

Israel has not responded to the Iranian claims. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

"On behalf of all citizens of Israel, I would like to send my condolences to Egyptian President El-Sisi and to the Egyptian people in wake of the EgyptAir disaster in the Mediterranean Sea," Netanyahu told the Egyptian President.

Egypt's Daily News, the country's main English-daily newspaper, claimed the government has said "all causes" of the crash are possible and none is being ruled out at this time. However, some of the recovered items have indications of an on-board explosion, sources familiar with the investigation have said.

Those same sources report that the plane disappeared from radar immediately after it was handed off from Greek air traffic controllers to the Egyptians. Ironically, Malaysian Air 370 experienced trouble at exactly the same time – in the hand off between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic controllers. Malaysia Air 370 then flew into the middle of the Indian Ocean. The flight has never been found, though pieces of debris from the plane have begun to wash ashore in Africa in recent days.

According to the Telegraph, the same EgyptAir plane that disappeared May 19 was found to have been tagged with graffiti nearly two years ago in a protest against Gen. El-Sisi, who had just come to power in Egypt following the military's removal of the Muslim Brotherhood. The graffiti read, "We will bring this plane down."

The airline then fired some staff members who reportedly had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The paper also reported the words "Allahu Akbar" or "God is great," the rally cry of jihadists worldwide, was also found scrawled on several planes at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and at Lyon Airport. Charles de Gaulle was the last stop of the EgyptAir plane before its return flight to Cairo.

An EgyptAir flight was also hijacked in March.