Jerusalem, 22 April 1999

Transport Minister Yahalom Expresses Satisfaction at Findings of Dutch Commission on 1992 El Al Plane Crash

(Communicated by the Transportation Ministry Spokesman)

The Dutch commission which examined the crash of an El Al cargo plane in the Netherlands approximately seven years ago has in findings which were published today (Thursday), 22.4.99 determined that there was no deception by any Israeli body whatsoever regarding the plane’s cargo and that all of the cargo’s manifests were in order.

Transportation Minister Shaul Yahalom expressed satisfaction at the commission’s findings, which refute any suspicions that El Al concealed or suppressed information. "Israel deeply regrets the deaths of those who were killed in the crash; it has made great efforts to assist the Dutch authorities in advancing the investigation and uncovering the truth. We are pleased that our position, as it was presented to the Dutch commission of inquiry, has been accepted and that the truth has come to light," Minister Yahalom said.

Civil Aviation Administration Director Avner Yarkoni said, at an Amsterdam press conference, that the Administration had assisted the Dutch authorities in locating the original documents pertaining to the cargo in the hope of uncovering the truth. "During the investigation, El Al did not try to deceive, or conceal information from, the Dutch commission of inquiry," Yarkoni said.

The commission found that in regard to the putative "missing 20 tons of cargo", not only were its contents known in detail, but that it contained no elements which could have been a source of risk in the crash, beyond those risks which exist in the crash of a plane of this type. The commission found that the 20 tons of cargo contained no dangerous elements and that all speculation to this effect must be ruled out.

Despite certain criticism of a 1992 report, the commission rejected all conjectures which had been raised regarding the reasons for the crash and adopted the 1992 report.

The commission of inquiry further emphasized that it has not been proven that the ailments, which those injured in the crash are putatively suffering from, were specifically caused by the plane’s cargo and not by the burning of such "regular" substances such as fuel or materials which had been used in the construction of homes at the crash site.

Regarding the "people in white coveralls" which were seen at the crash site, the commission found that they were not Israeli security personnel but apparently local emergency services personnel, some of whom according to the commission wore white coveralls.

The commission expressed its regret if Israeli-Dutch relations were harmed in any way as a result of its work, this coming alongside hints at criticism over the degree of cooperation with Israel.