Israel’s ZAKA search and rescue organisation have finally started the process of attempting to gather the remains of two Israelis on board Ethiopian Airlines flight 302.
The plane crashed shortly after take-off killing all 157 passengers and crew on March 10.
ZAKA’ s efforts had been thwarted by local issues since Shimon Ram, a 59-year-old security expert from Zichron Yaakov, and Avraham Matzliah, a 49-year-old businessman from Maale Adumim, died in the crash.
Ethiopian Airlines announced DNA identification testing could take up to 18 months, which saw bereaved families being offered a kilogram of land from the crash scene for funerals.
Thousands of people marched in Addis Ababa last Sunday carrying 17 empty caskets at a funeral for Ethiopian victims due to the situation.
Israel Ambassador to Ethiopia, Raphael Morav, Consul Opher Dach together with ZAKA and family representatives appealed to authorities.
Ram’s family had asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin to intervene in bringing his body back to Israel for burial. Eventually access was granted.
“Israel will go anywhere in the world to bring home our loved ones,” Rivlin said. “Please allow us to continue our search in the broadest way possible.”
ZAKA have accused the Ethiopian government of disrespecting victims.
“We have never seen such behaviour in 30 years of handling disasters in Israel and around the world,” ZAKA said after viewing the disaster scene.
“We are making great efforts, alongside ambassadors of other countries.
“We have found passports, documents, pictures. We began digging with our hands. We will do everything to help as many people as possible regardless of religion, race or gender.”
Flight data shows “clear” similarities with an earlier disaster involving a similar Boeing plane in Indonesia in October 2018.
The US and other countries have ground the Boeing 737 fleet.
By Leah Waxler