It has been almost a year since Flight MH17 was attacked and brought down over Eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 innocent civilians on board the commercial airliner. Although we are still under shock of this horrible incident and the next of kin of the victims are still struggling with the traumas of this dramatic event, this is by far an unique incident. It happened before and it might happen again. This is an overview of the sad recent history of attacks on commercial airlines:
- Iranian Air Flight 655 was shot down on 03/07/1988 by the USA, killing 290 innocent civilians on board.
- Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 was shot down on 04/10/2001 by Ukraine, killing 78 innocent civilians on board.
- Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down on 17/07/2014 killing 298 innocent civilians on board and it is still to be determined who is responsible for this incident.
These flights have several facts in common:
- All flights were registered standard commercial flights flying within their agreed flight path under internationally recognized Air Traffic Control.
- All flights were transmitting international standard identification codes which clearly identified them as commercial flights.
- All flights were shot down by military air defense systems.
- At first, those responsible for this horrible incident denied responsibility…
Flight MH17 has however some facts which set it aside from the 2 other very traumatic incidents:
- Flight MH17 was flying over a warzone in which several (military) planes have been shot down in the days before the incident. A security briefing was held in Kiev days before the incident which unfortunately didn’t lead to closing the airspace over the warzone. Flight 655 and Flight 1812 were flying in airspaces which were considered safe.
- Flight MH17 is covered by massive attention in Social Media and Mainstream Media, overloading the audience with facts and fictions, opinions presented as evidence and speculations overtake information. Flight 655 and Flight 1812 barely had attention in the western media and social media were still to be born.
- Flight MH17 is condemned in UNSC Resolution 2166 which demands that the responsible persons be trialed and brought to justice. Flight 655 and Flight 1812 are not covered by such resolution and demand.
In the case of Flight 655, the USA finally admitted to being responsible for the shot down and killing of innocent civilians and paid a compensation to the families of the victims without prosecuting those responsible for the incident. After various investigations by the Pentagon, the USA came to the conclusion that Flight 655 was mistaken for an Iranian fighter jet and as a result was shot down.
In the case of Flight 1812, Ukraine finally admitted being responsible for the incident and paid a compensation to the families of the victims, mainly Israeli tourists on their way to visit their families. Ukraine blamed the incident on a malfunction of one of their missiles launched during a training. The only outcome of this incident was that Ukraine stopped its firing of live missiles from Crimea for several years. There was no prosecution of those responsible for the incident.
Both incidents have led to aviation safety reports and recommendations which, as the incident with Flight MH17 have shown, did not lead to prevention of attacks on commercial airlines by military air defense systems. Both incidents have led to political and diplomatic arrangements in which a financial compensation was paid to compensate and/or silence the families of the victims. Both incidents have not led to a public recognition of guilt nor to public apologies for the incident and the killing of innocent civilian incidents. Both incidents have in common that those who provided the weapon, those who have fired the weapon and those who gave the order or approval to fire the weapon are still living their lives in freedom without being prosecuted and held responsible.
This is a sad but realistic forecast for what will happen in the future related to Flight MH17. The odds are high that at some point in time there will be some level of admittance that Flight MH17 was shot down by someone and that it was all a sad mistake. To close the book and silence the relatives and loved ones of the victims, some compensation will be paid. Recommendations will be made to prevent such incidents which will not or partially be implemented.
And then, somewhere in the future, it will happen again. And again. If Flight MH17 has proven anything, then it is that it can and will happen again. If Flight 655 and Flight 1812 have proven anything, then it is that accepting responsibility under the cover of a mistake or error and a compensation is all that happens after attacking a commercial airliner with innocent victims.
And that, dear friends, is all we can expect for Flight MH17, if we can expect anything at all!
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