26 February 1980

Egypt and Israel establish full diplomatic relations.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between Egypt and Israel is a significant event in the history of the Middle East. It marked a pivotal moment in the region’s geopolitics and has had far-reaching implications for peace and stability.

The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was signed on March 26, 1979, following the Camp David Accords negotiated by U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The treaty ended decades of hostility and conflict between the two countries, including several wars, notably the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, the Suez Crisis of 1956, and the Six-Day War of 1967.

Key provisions of the peace treaty included the mutual recognition of each other’s sovereignty and the establishment of full diplomatic relations, including the exchange of ambassadors, trade, and cooperation in various fields such as tourism, culture, and security.

This historic agreement was a breakthrough in the Arab-Israeli conflict and significantly changed the dynamics of the region. It paved the way for subsequent peace negotiations between Israel and its other Arab neighbors, notably Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

Despite occasional tensions and challenges, the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel has largely endured, contributing to stability in the region and facilitating cooperation on issues of mutual interest. However, it’s essential to note that while diplomatic relations have been established, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved, and efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace agreement in the region continue.

26 February 1993

World Trade Center bombing: In New York City, a truck bomb parked below the North Tower of the World Trade Center explodes, killing six and injuring over a thousand people

The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was carried out by a group of terrorists led by Ramzi Yousef, a Pakistani national. The attack occurred on February 26, 1993, when a truck bomb was detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The explosion killed six people and injured over a thousand others.

In addition to Yousef, several other individuals were involved in planning and carrying out the attack. These included Abdul Rahman Yasin, who helped mix the chemicals used in the bomb, and Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck that was used to transport the bomb to the World Trade Center.

In 1997, Ramzi Yousef was convicted for his role in the bombing and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The other individuals involved in the attack were also apprehended and convicted.

26 February 1980

Egypt and Israel establish full diplomatic relations.

Egypt–Israel relations are foreign relations between Egypt and Israel. The state of war between both countries which dated back to the 1948 Arab–Israeli War culminated in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and was followed by the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty a year after the Camp David Accords, mediated by US president Jimmy Carter. Full diplomatic relations were established on January 26, 1980. Egypt has an embassy in Tel Aviv and a consulate in Eilat. Israel has an embassy in Cairo and a consulate in Alexandria.

Their shared border has two official crossings, one at Taba and one at Nitzana. The crossing at Nitzana is for commercial and tourist traffic only. The two countries’ borders also meet at the shoreline of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea.

Peace between Egypt and Israel has lasted for more than thirty years and Egypt has become an important strategic partner of Israel. In January 2011, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defense minister known for his close ties to Egyptian officials, stated that “Egypt is not only our closest friend in the region, the co-operation between us goes beyond the strategic.

Nevertheless, the relationship is sometimes described as a “cold peace”, with many in Egypt skeptical about its effectiveness. The Arab-Israeli conflict kept relations cool and anti-Israeli incitement is prevalent in the Egyptian media.

Israel-Egypt Armistice Commission building
In 2003, Egyptian Air Force UAVs entered Israeli airspace and overflew the nuclear research facilities at Nahal Sorek and Palmachim Airbase. Israel threatened to shoot the drones down.

Although diplomatic relations were established in 1980, the Egyptian ambassador to Israel was recalled between 1982 and 1988, and again between 2001 and 2005 during the Second Intifada.

During the final years of the Mubarak administration, the leading Egyptian official conducting contacts with Israel had been the head of Egyptian intelligence Omar Suleiman. Suleiman was ousted from power at the same time as Mubarak, and Israel was said to have very few channels of communication open with Egypt during the events of 2011.

Egypt undermined the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip by opening the Rafah border to persons in May 2011. The Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian parliament wished to open trade across the border with Gaza, a move said to be resisted by Egypt’s Tantawi government.

After an exchange of rocket fire between Gaza and Israel in March 2012, the Egyptian parliamentary committee for Arab affairs urged the Egyptian government to recall its ambassador to Israel from Tel Aviv, and deport Israel’s ambassador in Egypt. This was largely symbolic since only the ruling military council can make such decisions.

Relations have improved significantly between Israel and Egypt after the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état,[16] with close military cooperation over the Sinai insurgency. Notably, Israel has permitted Egypt to increase its number of troops deployed in the Sinai peninsula beyond the terms of the peace treaty. These developments, along with deteriorating Israel-Jordan relations, have led some to brand Egypt as Israel’s “closest ally” in the Arab world,[20] while others assert that relations remain relatively cold. Sisi has maintained the policy of previous Egyptian presidents of pledging not to visit Israel until Israel recognizes Palestinian statehood, although his Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, has visited Israel.

26 February 2013

A hot air balloon crashes in Egypt, killing 19 people.

On 26 February 2013, at 07:00 Egypt Standard Time (05:00 UTC), a hot air balloon crashed near Luxor, Egypt. The crash resulted in 19 deaths out of 21 passengers – 18 on-site and one in hospital hours later. It is the deadliest ballooning accident in history and the deadliest aerostat disaster since the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 which killed 36 people.

Hot air balloons are commonly used in Egypt to provide tourists with an aerial view of the country’s landscape and famous landmarks. In Luxor, such rides offer views of the Nile River, the temple of Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, among other attractions. Concerns over passenger safety have been raised from time to time, with multiple crashes reported in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

In April 2009, 16 people were hurt when a balloon crashed during a tour of Luxor. After the crash, flights were grounded for six months while safety measures were improved. Pilot training was increased and balloons were given a designated landing zone. Following the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the rule of law has largely been ignored.

Sky Cruise, the operator of the balloon, had suffered a previous accident in October 2011, which even involved the same balloon. The company has stated that it is properly insured and prepared to compensate victims’ families.

Early on 26 February, an Ultramagic N-425 balloon, registration SU-283, operated by Sky Cruise departed on a sight-seeing flight carrying twenty passengers and a pilot. According to a nearby balloon pilot, Mohamed Youssef, a fire started in the Sky Cruise balloon a few meters off the ground as it was attempting to land, as a result of a leaking fuel line. As the fire engulfed the basket, the pilot and one passenger leaped to safety as the craft rose rapidly aided by a wind gust. As the balloon rose, approximately seven passengers jumped to their deaths to escape the fire. At an altitude of approximately 300 meters, there was an explosion which could be heard several kilometers away. The balloon and remaining passengers plunged to the ground, killing everyone remaining on board. One eyewitness remarked that he heard “a huge bang. It was a frightening bang, even though it was several kilometers away” from his location. Youssef said it appeared that a gas leak in one of the balloon’s tanks caused the fire and resulting explosion, consistent with information reported in state-run media. Earlier reports had indicated that the balloon may have contacted a power line.

Two minutes later, the burning craft crashed into a sugar cane field west of Luxor. A second explosion was reported 15 seconds later. Ambulances arrived on the scene after 15 minutes. Bodies were scattered across the field when rescue workers arrived on the scene. The balloon’s final moments were caught on amateur video.

At the time of its ascent, the balloon carried 20 passengers and Momin Murad, the balloon’s Egyptian pilot. Nineteen of the passengers were tourists: nine from Hong Kong, four from Japan, three from Britain, two from France, and one from Hungary; the 20th passenger was an Egyptian tour guide. Of the Hong Kongers, five were women and four were men. They were members of three families on a tour group organized by Kuoni Travel. The Japanese victims were two couples from Tokyo in their 60s. They were on a ten-day tour of Egypt organized by JTB Corporation. The three Britons and the Hungarian-born passenger, a resident of the UK, were on a tour organized by Thomas Cook Group. The French victims were a 48-year-old woman and her 14-year-old daughter.

The accident killed 18 of the passengers on site; the pilot and two passengers survived the initial crash. The two surviving passengers, both British men, were rushed to hospital in critical condition. One of them died after five hours of surgery. Dr. Mohammad Abdullah, the head of the emergency ward of the Luxor hospital, said that the Briton who died in the hospital had probably suffered a 50-meter fall. The surviving Briton was described as being in critical but stable condition, while the pilot was said to be conscious and talking, but with burns covering 70% of his body. Doctors at the Luxor International Hospital said that many of the dead suffered severe internal injuries and severe burns.

After news of the tragedy broke, Governor of Luxor Ezzat Saad banned hot air balloon flights in his jurisdiction until further notice. Egypt’s civil aviation minister, Wael el-Maadawi, followed by suspending balloon flights nationwide. In a statement, President Mohamed Morsi expressed his “deepest condolences and sympathy for the families of those who lost their lives in this tragic incident.” National government spokesman Alaa Hadidi said a committee would be formed to investigate the accident.

The bodies of the victims were transported to four hospitals in Cairo. Chinese consular officials in the Arab Republic of Egypt and Hong Kong Immigration Department officers were scheduled to travel with the family members of the Hong Kong victims to Cairo. Kuoni Travel, the Hong Kong travel agency that organized the tour attended by the Hong Kong passengers, made plans for the six tour members who did not take the balloon ride to leave Egypt. The tour agency stated that, in addition to the US$7000 per person stipulated by contract, additional compensation would be given.

Mohammed Osman, head of the Luxor Tourism Chamber, accused civil aviation authorities of lowering standards prior to the accident. “I don’t want to blame the revolution for everything, but the laxness started with the revolution,” he said. “These people are not doing their job, they are not checking the balloons and they just issue the licenses without inspection.” National authorities were quick to deny the allegations, noting that the balloon had recently been inspected. They also said the pilot should have shut off gas valves and attempted to put out the fire instead of bailing, and thus may have contributed to the tragedy. An anonymous civil aviation ministry official acknowledged to the press that standards had been weakened by the current regime. The pilot’s license had been renewed one month prior to the accident.

Local and foreign media analysts speculated that the crash would hurt Egypt’s already weakened tourism industry, which was down 22% from 2010 levels. Wael Ibrahim, who oversees the tourism syndicate in Luxor, did not expect the accident to worsen the situation since tourism was already down so much. “This accident could happen anywhere in the world”, he remarked. A local balloon operator, angered by the industry shutdown, remarked: “Why the mass punishment? Do you stop all flights when you have a plane crash? … You will cut the livelihoods for nearly 3,000 human beings who live on this kind of tourism.” Angered by the industry-wide shutdown, tourism workers threatened to organize protests on 2 March. The same day, Saad admitted that pressure to resume balloon flights was mounting and promised that downtime would be less than a month. Hot air balloon rides at Luxor were set to resume in April, according to a statement on the Egyptian Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission’s website.

Preliminary results of the government investigation ruled out criminal conduct as the cause of the crash. On 2 March, Luxor-area balloon pilots held a press conference to defend Egypt’s safety protocol and their colleague’s actions.

The Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority released its final report of the crash on 7 January 2014. The 219-page report blamed a leak in a fuel line connected to the balloon’s burner. The aging line had been in use since 2005 and sprung a leak, which ignited as the balloon came in to land. The fire severely injured the pilot, who jumped or fell from the basket. Some of the ground crew released the ground line in order to attend to the pilot, so that the remaining crew could not keep the balloon near the ground. The flaming balloon rose rapidly and uncontrolled, then exploded.

The balloon’s pilot and a maintenance engineer were arrested for negligence.

26 February 1935

Adolf Hitler directs that the Luftwaffe to be re-formed. This violates the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.

The first way Hitler broke the Treaty was over Germany’s armed forces. In 1934, he destroyed the League of Nations Disarmament Conference by demanding equality of arms with France and Britain – this broke the Treaty because it had set up the League with the stated aim of achieving disarmament. At first, Hitler broke the Treaty’s terms by building up his army in secret, drilling volunteers with spades instead of rifles. Then, in 1935, he openly held a huge rearmament rally. The other nations let him get away with it – Britain even made a naval agreement with Germany, accepting that Germany had a right to have a navy of 35% of the British navy. After 1936, Hitler reintroduced conscription, and began to pump huge sums into Germany’s armed forces. Germans were told ‘guns not butter’.

By the end of 1938, Hitler was doing the same thing in the Sudentenland, which the Treaty of Versailles had given to Czechoslovakia. Sudeten Nazis, led by Henlein, caused trouble, claiming that they were being oppressed by the Czechs. Hitler demanded union, and threatened war. This time, although the Czech leader Beneš was prepared to fight, it was Britain and France who, at Munich, broke the Treaty of Versailles and gave the Sudetenland to Germany. Which just left Danzig, and the Polish corridor . It can be argued that it was not just Hitler who broke the Treaty of Versailles, but also Britain and France, when they allowed him to do what he did.