Israel does not know what caused the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, security sources told The Times of Israel on Monday night, hours after the country’s most-watched TV station claimed Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had hinted that Iran was responsible.
Israel has no information on what befell the plane, the sources said, and Ya’alon was making no hints about the matter in a speech he gave on Monday afternoon in which he charged Iran with fostering terrorism in the Middle East, Asia and beyond.
Israel’s Channel 2 news had quoted a line from a speech Ya’alon gave in Eilat on Monday afternoon, when he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu displayed a shipment of weapons — intercepted by the Israeli Navy in the Red Sea off the coast of Sudan last week — which was allegedly dispatched by Iran and intended for terror groups in Gaza: “This [Iranian] regime also uses diplomatic mail in order to transfer explosives to its embassies in Asia and South America,” Ya’alon said.
That sentence constituted “a hint, one way or another,” by Ya’alon, “about a package or cargo that may have been on that plane,” the TV report said. Israel’s most popular Hebrew website, Ynet, also interpreted Ya’alon’s comment as “a hint at Iran’s involvement” in the plane disaster.
But the security sources said Ya’alon was making no such hint, and was speaking generally about Iran’s use of the diplomatic mail to transfer explosives for use in acts of terror.
The focus on a possible Iranian connection to the disappearance of the Malaysian plane early Saturday, with 239 people on board, was sparked by reports earlier Monday that the tickets for two passengers who used stolen passports to travel on the flight were booked by an Iranian man named only as “Mr. Ali.”
Israel’s Channel 10 News speculated Monday night that the plane may have been blown up in a “work accident” involving terror operatives. It noted that Iran “had no interest” in deliberately blowing up a Malaysian airliner. It also claimed that passport-forging gangs linked to Iran had been operating in Asia in recent years.