WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Israel reportedly gave intercepts to Western intelligence regarding the Russian plane crash that killed 224 people over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
CNN reports Israel captured communications focused on the Sinai and shared the intel with the United States and Britain.
Israeli officials did not comment on the claims.
Israel Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters on Monday that there was a “high probability” that the plane was brought down by a bomb.
Yaalon said he “would be surprised” if a planted explosive device did not cause the crash. But he noted that Israel is not involved in the investigation and said his opinion was based on “what we hear and understand.”
CBS News reports that American intelligence sources believe the intercepts between Islamic State of Iraq and Syria suspects raise the credibility that the terror group downed the plane.
ISIS extremists have claimed they brought down the Metrojet flight, without offering proof, and said it was in retaliation for Moscow’s airstrikes that began at the end of September against militants in Syria.
Thousands of Russians vacationers were heading home from Egypt on Monday aboard special planes sent by Moscow, which has suspended all flights to Egypt amid security concerns in the aftermath of the Oct. 31 plane crash.
Since the Russian suspension of Egypt flights was announced on Friday, dozens of airliners have been bringing Russian tourists back home, carrying only cabin baggage, while Russian cargo planes are hauling back the rest of their luggage.
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said it would take about two weeks to bring all the stranded Russian tourists back home. Dvorkovich, who has been made the point-man for the repatriation in the wake of the Russian plane crash in Sinai, said earlier in the day 25,000 have already been brought back home since the weekend.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he does not expect flights to Egypt to resume any time soon, saying that “it will take time” to ensure safety of travelers in Egypt. He stopped short of giving a timeline for that.
Security concerns over Egyptian procedures have also gained attention in recent days. Security officials at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport have told The Associated Press that the facility has long had gaps in security, including a key baggage scanning device that often is not functioning and lax searches at an entry gate for food and fuel for the planes.
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