Israel has tightened security in its airspace following the disappearance and possible hijacking of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on March 8, Channel 2 reported Sunday.
According to the report, security officials and aviation authorities recently held a security assessment and decided upon a series of security measures intended to enhance safety in Israeli airspace.
Among the measures, airliners are now required to identify themselves much earlier when approaching Israel’s airspace. Other actions were not disclosed at this time.
The increased security came as El Al’s former global security chief told The Times of Israel he believes that the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight points directly to Iran.
Nine days after the jet’s mysterious disappearance, search efforts now include 11 nations as suspicions turn to sabotage and, possibly, terrorism.
On Sunday officials said the final words from the missing jetliner’s cockpit gave no indication anything was wrong even though one of the plane’s communications systems had already been disabled, adding to suspicions that one or both of the pilots were involved in the disappearance.
On Saturday, Malaysia’s government confirmed that the plane was deliberately diverted and may have flown as far north as Central Asia, or south into the vast reaches of the Indian Ocean.
Authorities have said someone on board the plane first disabled one of its communications systems — the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS — at 1:07 a.m. Around 14 minutes later, the transponder, which identifies the plane to commercial radar systems, was also shut down. The fact that they went dark separately is strong evidence that the plane’s disappearance was deliberate.
Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference that that the final, reassuring words from the cockpit — “All right, good night” — were spoken to air traffic controllers after the ACARS system was shut down. Whoever spoke did not mention any trouble on board, seemingly misleading ground control.
Investigators are trying to answer these questions: If the two pilots were involved in the disappearance, were they working together or alone, or with one or more of the passengers or crew? Did they fly the plane under duress or of their own volition? Did one or more of the passengers manage to break into the cockpit, or use the threat of violence to gain entry and then pilot the plane? And what possible motive could there be for flying off with the plane?
Malaysia’s police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, said he requested countries with citizens on board the plane to investigate their background, no doubt looking for any ties to terrorist groups, aviation skills or evidence of prior contact with the pilots. He said that the intelligence agencies of some countries had already done this and found nothing suspicious, but that he was waiting for others to respond.
The government said police searched the homes of both pilots on Saturday, the first time they had done so since the plane went missing. Asked why it took them so long, Khalid said authorities “didn’t see the necessity in the early stages.”
Khalid said police confiscated the elaborate flight simulator that one of the pilots, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had built in his home and reassembled it in their offices to study it for clues.
Zaharie, 53, who has three grown children and one grandchild, had previously posted photos online of the simulator, which was made with three large computer monitors and other accessories. Earlier this week, the head of Malaysia Airlines said this was not in itself cause for any suspicion.