Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday by condemning Iran for lying about the crash of a Ukrainian airplane last week.
“Iran lied,” Netanyahu said in English. “Just as they lied about their secret nuclear program, they’re lying now about the downing of the Ukrainian aircraft. They knew from the start that they had downed it. They knew that it was an unintentional downing but they lied intentionally. They deceived the entire world.”
“This is completely contrary to the way that a civilized country should act, and we send our condolences to the victims of Iran’s deception and negligence,” Netanyahu concluded.
Iran initially denied having any involvement in the crash of the Ukrainian Boeing 737 near Tehran on Tuesday, which killed the 176 passengers and crew aboard the commercial flight from Tehran to Kyiv. However, US and Iraqi officials said on Thursday that the plane was likely shot down accidentally by a surface-to-air missile after Iranian anti-aircraft systems were activated following Iranian airstrikes on US military bases in Iraq on Tuesday. This conclusion, which was supported by videos, raised questions about why Iran didn’t close down its international airspace following the strikes in Iraq if they were anticipating reprisal attacks from the US.
Hundreds of Iranians gathered at universities in Tehran on Saturday night to protest the government’s late acknowledgment of the plane being shot down. They demanded officials involved in the missile attack be removed from their positions and tried. Police broke up the demonstrations.
Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guard’s aerospace division, said his unit accepts full responsibility for the shootdown. In an address broadcast by state TV, he said when he learned about the downing of the plane, “I wished I was dead.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)