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Israel sends condolences to Russia over Sinai plane crash Jewish group mourns death of staffer

(JTA) – Israel sent its condolences to Russia over the crash of a Russian passenger plane en route from Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai peninsula to St. Petersburg which killed all 224 people aboard, including a former program director for Hillel Russia.

“I offer condolences to the government of Russia, to President Putin, to the Russian people and, of course, to the families of the victims,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday. “This was a very serious disaster. We share in their grief. We are, of course, in continuous contact with the governments of Russia and of Egypt regarding the circumstances of the incident.”

Meanwhile, Hillel Russia mourned the death aboard the charter flight of Anna Tishinskaya, 27, a former program director of the Jewish student organization.

Tishinskaya “was part of the family,” even though she no longer worked for Hillel, the group said. “Anna, you were incredibly talented, swift, fearless, sincere, kind and bright. You were a truly extraordinary person,” the statement read.

Tishinskaya graduated from St. Petersburg State University, where she studied history, according to a report on the Russian-language website isrageo.com. She took part in the activities of Hillel Russia and the Israeli Culture Center in St. Petersburg, where she was organizing events as late as 2012.

At press time, the Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for bringing down the plane.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail said experts do not believe that weapons held by the Islamic State could down a plane at the altitude of the flight when it came down, the BBC reported.

Russian officials opened an investigation into the crash, looking for gross negligence and safety violations.

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Peter Lerner posted Saturday on Twitter that the IDF assisted with aerial surveillance in efforts to locate the flight.

Three airlines – Emirates, Air France and Lufthansa – have decided not to fly over the Sinai Peninsula until a determination is made as to how the plane crashed, the BBC reported.

CAP: Anna Tishinskaya

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