The remains of an Israeli man who died in an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash in March have been found and identified, an Israeli rescue group said Wednesday.
Two Israelis killed in the crash were Avraham Matsliah, 49, from Ma’ale Adumim, and Shimon Reem, 55, of Zichron Yaakov.
ZAKA, an Israeli emergency response organization that collects human remains for burial, said it had succeeded in identifying the remains of Reem.
Ethiopian authorities have drawn criticism for the manner in which recovery efforts have been handled. More than three months after the disaster the remains of some victims have yet to be identified.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem as he met visiting Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, mentioned the development.
“I want to thank my friend Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who responded to my requests and the requests of Shimon Reem’s family and we will now bring back the remains of his body,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to work until we bring back the remains of Avraham Matsliah.”
ZAKA members were initially prevented by Ethiopian authorities from accessing the crash site and according to co-founder and head of ZAKA, Yehuda Meshi Zahav, it was Netanyahu’s personal request to Ahmed that eventually enabled them to reach the area.
On March 10, the Boeing 737 Max 8 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 went down six minutes after takeoff, apparently due to a technical malfunction, killing all 157 people on board. The victims were from 35 countries all over the world, including Kenya, Israel, Canada, Italy, China, Ethiopia and the United States.
The crash followed another 737 Max in Indonesia, with both accidents killing a total of 346 people. About 400 Max jets around the world are now grounded as Boeing investigates and works to update flight control software implicated in the accidents.
For most people and faiths around the world, physical remains are not necessary in order to perform a complete religious funeral. However, this is a necessity for Jewish burials. Despite the delay in retrieving the remains, a special rabbinic court ruled late March that the families of the two Israeli men killed in the crash may begin the traditional mourning process for their loved ones.