The second of two Israelis killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash near Addis Ababa on Sunday was identified Tuesday evening as Shimon Re’em, 55, a father of five from the northern coastal town of Zichron Ya’acov.
Re’em, a 23-year retired veteran of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, was working for the Israeli security consulting company Shafran, the company said in a statement on its website, mourning his death.
On Monday the first Israeli victim was identified as Avraham Matsliah, a father of two from the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. Matsliah, 49, left behind a wife and two twin daughters, who are both currently serving in the Israeli military.
All 157 passengers and crew members of the Boeing 737 MAX airplane operated by Ethiopian Airlines were killed shortly after the Nairobi-bound flight took off from Addis Ababa.
At least 35 nationalities were among the dead.
Authorities are still working to sort through the wreckage and identify victims. The Israeli emergency response group ZAKA sent a delegation late Sunday night “to locate and identify the Israeli victims, to collect their remains in keeping with Jewish law, and ensure a full Jewish burial,” the group said.
Zichron Yaakov Mayor Ziv Deshe told the Ynet news site that local social workers were with Re’em’s wife and family, who had requested privacy from the media and the public.
“It’s a real tragedy,” his cousin Noam Haroush told Ynet. “Shimon was a wonderful person, energetic and dedicated to his work and his family.”
Channel 13 reported that Re’em had previously been in charge of security at two Israeli embassies in South America and had later worked as a head of regional security for Israel’s El Al airlines.
Bring them home
Shimon Misha flew from Israel to Ethiopia to collect the remains of Matsliah, his colleague.
“There is a mother and sister and brother. They’re waiting for a body to bury,” Misha told AFP Tuesday as he waited with other next-of-kin at the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel for news on the remains of lost loved ones.
He had gone to the crash scene, a blackened crater with debris scattered around it, hoping to find anything that had belonged to 49-year-old Matsliah, but he was prevented by investigators.
Even though there is no body, “still there are sentimental parts they can find in this mess,” said Misha.
He added he was looking for Matsliah’s tefillin — small leather boxes containing scripture that observant Jews wrap around their arms and heads with straps.
“We hope to find it because it’s made of tough leather.”
Matsliah had been on his way to close a business deal for telecoms firm Radwin, where he worked with Misha. “It’s my duty to bring Avi home,” added Misha. “We never leave somebody behind.”
The announcement came as Britain, France and Germany on Tuesday joined a rapidly growing number of countries grounding the new Boeing model involved in the Ethiopian Airlines disaster or turning it back from their airspace Tuesday, but there was no word on whether Israel would follow suit.
The Israeli Airports Authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it was considering closing Israel’s airspace to the Boeing 737 Max 8.
According to commercial flight tracker Flightradar24, a Boeing 737 Max 8 belonging to Czech airliner Smartwings was en route to Israel Tuesday evening from the Canary Islands.
But many other planes around the world were grounded or forced to reroute as a global team of investigators began looking for parallels with a similar crash just five months ago.
Neither of Israeli airliners El Al or Arkia list the model among the planes in their fleets.
Pressure has grown on the United States to take action over the Boeing 737 Max 8 as Asian, Middle Eastern and then European nations and carriers gave in to concerns. Some cited customers frightened by the sight of Sunday’s crash in clear weather.
The Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed six minutes after taking off for Nairobi.
One witness told The Associated Press he saw smoke coming from the plane’s rear before it crashed in a rural field. “The plane rotated two times in the air, and it had some smoke coming from the back then, it hit the ground and exploded,” farmer Tamrat Abera said.
It should take five days before any victims’ remains are identified, Ethiopian Airlines spokesman Asrat Begashaw told the AP.
A pilot who saw the crash site minutes after the disaster told the AP the plane appeared to have “slid directly into the ground.”
Capt. Solomon Gizaw was among the first people dispatched to find the crash site, which was discovered by Ethiopia’s air force.
“There was nothing to see,” he said. “It looked like the earth had swallowed the aircraft. … We were surprised!” He said it explained why rescue officials quickly sent bulldozers to begin digging out large pieces of the plane.
Ethiopian Airlines, widely seen as Africa’s best-managed airline, grounded its remaining four 737 Max 8s until further notice as “an extra safety precaution.” The carrier had been using five of the planes and was awaiting delivery of 25 more.
On Tuesday a group of officials from China, which also grounded planes, paused in their work at the scene to reflect with an offering of incense, fruit, bread rolls, and a plastic container of the Ethiopian flatbread injera.