Russian personnel have been sent to review security measures at the Egyptian airport in Sharm el-Sheikh, as well as in Cairo and elsewhere in the country in the wake of the recent MetroJet crash in the Sinai Peninsula.
As did Britain, Russia has followed with a suspension on travel to and from the Sinai Peninsula — a move that could easily constitute the death knell for the slowly rejuvenating Egyptian tourism industry. At least 20,000 UK citizens are stranded in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, but there are a whopping 50,000 Russian citizens also in the area, according to estimated foreign ministry and tourism figures.
In St. Petersburg on Sunday, the bells tolled 224 times, once for each of the victims who died in the crash of the MetroJet in Sinai a week ago this past Saturday.
The black boxes on the doomed plane — in particular, the damaged cockpit voice recorder — were both recovered from the 13-kilometer (nine mile) crash site. And although it will take time to completely extract all the information they contain, experts so far have been able to learn there was a loud bang just before all sound cut off in the aircraft.
Prior to that “bang” all function on the plane was proceeding normally, or at least seemed to be, with the navigation system on autopilot. The jet reached a cruising elevation of 32,000 feet at 23 minutes before it began to fall from the sky — another indication that whatever happened may not have been caused by human error or mechanical failure.
Russian officials as well as citizens are becoming increasingly concerned by the growing realization that it was indeed likely that a bomb brought down the passenger flight from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg. The remains of only a fraction of the passengers — some 58 — have been identified thus far.
The Da’esh (ISIS) terror organization almost immediately claimed responsibility for the crash, saying it was carried out in response to Russia’s presence and attacks on Muslim fighters in Syria.
A local source with whom JewishPress.com spoke in London on Monday described a conversation with a business colleague from Moscow, saying he was “heartbroken — just completely heartbroken by it all. He can barely speak.” According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the conversation was typical of others that had been repeated over the past week. “Nearly everyone is still in shock,” said the source. “They are all moving through fog; no one can believe it. No one is used to thinking about terrorism this way.”
That, in fact is the crux of the matter, pointed out a journalist on the CNN network. The idea that Da’esh , a real wild card, has now become so powerful that it is capable of bringing down foreign aircraft as they fly over the Sinai Peninsula with hundreds of innocent passengers is “simply frightening,” the news network said.
Given the risk in the region posed by ISIS, Iran and the escalation in terrorism by Palestinian Authority attacks on civilians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears set to request an upgraded military aid package of at least $5 billion to help defend Israel against the threats it is being forced to contend with, now and in future years.
Hana Levi Julian