(Kiev, Ukraine) – Just four months after a Malaysian Airlines jet went missing, the company is once again in the news. And, like last time, it’s not in a good way.
Malaysian Airlines MH17 was shot down today, over the Ukrainian village of Torez, with a surface-to-air missile. MH17, a Boeing 777-200 en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, carried 15 crew members and 280 passengers – including 23 Americans.
“The United States deplores the shoot down of this passenger jet,” said a White House spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We are appalled at the needless loss of life. We are dumfounded as to the reason for this senseless act of violence and terror.
“We condemn the shoot down. We condemn the shoot down in the strongest possible terms. We condemn the shoot down in terms stronger than usual. You might say we condemn the shoot down in the most strongly strongest possible terms.”
The White House also announced it will immediately dispatch members of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to the crash site in Torez.
Tensions have steadily risen between both countries to their highest point since Russia annexed Crimea in March. Today’s senseless slaughter of 295 innocent civilians will only serve to ratchet up the pressure.
The identity of the shooter is still unknown, but accusations and conspiracy theories flew wildly as everyone sought answers that were simply not available.
Russia immediately blamed the Ukrainian government of President Petro Poroshenko. Ukraine, in turn, immediately blamed Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, backed by Moscow and the government of President Vladimir Putin.
The incident immediately brought back memories of Korean Air Lines 007, a Boeing 747 en route from New York to Seoul with a stopover in Anchorage. The jetliner was shot down by the Russian military on September 1, 1983, killing all 269 passengers and crew.
But not everyone immediately pinned blame on either Ukraine or Russia. Some conspiracy theorists immediately blamed Malaysian Airlines for the plane’s destruction, saying the company wanted to take the spotlight away from Malaysian Airlines MH370, which disappeared on March 8 and, in spite of extensive searches, is still missing.
Other conspiracy theorists leveled the same accusations against the Malaysian government, believing it had a hand in the disappearance of MH370.
Still other conspiracy theorists noted today’s date. On July 17, 1996, TWA 800 exploded shortly after takeoff, killing all 230 passengers and crew. The Boeing 747 was en route from New York to Rome with a stopover in Paris. Many eyewitnesses believe the plane was shot down by a missile.
Another option: Hamas.
The Islamic Fundamentalist terrorist organization has been busy indiscriminately firing inaccurate missiles at Israel . Hundreds have hit Israeli territory, though casualties are extremely low. On the Palestinian side in the Gaza Strip, Israel’s missiles are aimed with pinpoint accuracy, but as Hamas uses Palestinian citizens as human shields, hundreds are now dead.
Yet Hamas has impressed some with the advanced range of their mistargeted missiles. For the first time, Hamas is able to aim for Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, or a range of approximately 48 miles. Additionally, Hamas has repeatedly warned of “surprises” and demonstrated an armed, unmanned drone just this week.
Could this be another “surprise” from Hamas? Could their projectiles actually travel 1,200 miles and target a jetliner over Ukraine?
“It’s worth considering, but it’s highly unlikely,” said a Middle East expert, speaking on condition of anonymity. “If Hamas had a range of 1,200 miles, why wouldn’t they throw everything they had at Tel Aviv? If Hamas had a range of 1,200 miles, why wouldn’t they target the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in the West Bank? If Hamas had a range of 1,200 miles, why wouldn’t they target the new Egyptian government which is hostile to them?
“Most of all, why blow up this airplane? It’s not a flight going to or from Israel, so it makes no sense.”
Apparently, it makes sense to Hamas.
“We take full credit and thank God for our military prowess,” said a Hamas spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Today we have shown the world we are a rugged, organized, methodical military machine. Victory is ours!”
A word of caution: Hamas routinely takes credit for events which either never occurred or, instead of being victories, instead lead to Hamas’ decimation among its ranks and morale.