Air traffic controllers in Israel have been ordered to use extreme caution measures to identify incoming aircraft as the hunt continues for a missing Malaysian jetliner that disappeared March 9.
Without any trace of MH370, which was bound for China, Israel is worried the Boeing 777 could be used as a weapon of mass destruction, which makes it crucial for all incoming traffic to be identified in time to scramble interceptors, reports say.
Unnamed Transportation Ministry officials told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that there is “an instruction to increase alertness and nothing more,” and that no drastic measures have been taken.
Fox News said Israelis have reason to believe that Tel Aviv's Azrieli Towers skyscraper complex is a target coveted by Iran, which last week was found to have shipped a large cache of missiles to Gaza.The shipment was intercepted by Israel's navy. Two Iranian men were believed to be aboard the flight with fake passports and investigators are probing whether the pilot and copilot are involved in a plot to steal the plane.
A former security chief for El Al, Isaac Yeffet, told The Times of Israel he believes it's likely the flight was hijacked and flown someplace it can't be detected, raising the possibility that the 239 passengers and crew could still be alive. "If he committed suicide,where is the debris?" asked Yeffet, referring to the captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
Yeffet added that an El Al plane could not suffer the same fate because passenger lists have been heavily scrutinized since a 1968 hijacking, the last incident of its kind.
Malaysian authorities say the jet likely was in flight for seven hours after it disappeared from radar and evidently cut off communication. That's enough time to reach Tehran.
Twenty-six countries are now searching for MH370. Investigators are combing through phone records of the 239 passengers and crew searching for recent signs of calls or text messages since the plane disappeared.
JTA contributed to this post.