Avi Scharf, the editor of Israeli newspaper Haaretz, claimed in a tweet that a jet travelled to Islamabad from Tel Aviv, the Capital of Israel, and remained on ground in Islamabad for nearly 10 hours. He also claimed that this flight made a stop at Amman before coming to Islamabad and hence got the call sign Amman-Islamabad, avoiding any notice.
The government has since denied the Israeli journalist’s claim but the opposition has demanded a more convincing reply from the government.
The alleged aircraft, bearing tail number M-ULTI, landed in Islamabad on Oct 24 at 5:40am. Scharf cited data from the flight tracking website flightradar24, showing that the plane descended from 40,000 feet to 20,000ft near Islamabad before going out of coverage. The aircraft came back on radar after 10 hours and was seen flying southwest from Islamabad, made a stop in Amman and then took off for Tel Aviv.
This alleged trip was made a day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Oman, the first by any Israeli premier in over 20 years.
This claim was also rejected by the spokesman of the Civil Aviation Authority, stating that there was no truth in the claim and no aircraft originating from Israel landed in Pakistan. Pakistan does not recognise the state of Israel and has no diplomatic relations with the country. Hence the landing of any Israeli aircraft at a Pakistani airport would be highly unlikely. However, the aircraft is actually registered in the Isle of Man, but is operated out of Ben Gurion for chartered flights.
As this story made national headlines in the country, Mr Scharf tweeted “As my previous post caused uproar in Pakistan, here are all the details I have, and have not…”. He further gave the time when the plane allegedly made a descent into Islamabad. However, the Israeli journalist put forth the extent of his own information, stating that he did not know all the facts and whether the aircraft had actually landed in Islamabad.
He questioned why could a flight lower the altitude from 40,000ft to 20,000ft if it did not intend to land at the airport, especially around a place like Islamabad which is surrounded by hilly terrain.
Pakistan and Israel have maintained contact through backdoors and secrecy in the past as well. It is claimed that Israel gave donations and aid to Pakistan after the horrific 2005 earthquake, but this humanitarian aid came through other countries. Similarly, is it rumoured in the diplomatic circles that Pakistan used it’s embassy in Turkey to inform Israel about terror group activities.
This story has highlighted a larger question for most people, should Pakistan and other Muslims states recognize Israel in an effort to solve the Palestine-Israel issue?