Hamas threatened to detonate the Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (registered SP-RSM) that operated flight FR4978 from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania. “With this specific bomb threat, we had to redirect the aircraft to Minsk,” the Belarusian government announced on Monday.
According to the director of the Belarus Ministry of Transport, the letter contained the following: “As Hamas soldiers, we are demanding Israel to stop firing the Gaza strip, we demand that the European Union stops supporting Israel … if our demands are not met, a bomb will explode (on board the Ryanair aircraft) over Vilnius.”
The Belarusian Air Force announced that the Ryanair pilots themselves decided to land in Minsk, “without any pressure on them” (note from editor: yet accompanied by a MIG-29).
Why the aircraft didn’t continue to Vilnius, Lithuania which was much shorter than flying all the way to Minsk, why journalist Mr Raman Pratasevich and his travel companion were taken off the flight upon arrival in Minsk and why some employees of the Russian secret service were on board the particular flight are still questions to be answered. The question also remains that Hamas was really behind the bomb threat.