Israel Government Statement on Space Shuttle Columbia

The Israeli government and people share the sorrow of the Ramon family, and of the families of the other astronauts, who perished today (Saturday), February 1, 2003, in the space shuttle Columbia disaster.

The Israeli government sends condolences on behalf of the entire Jewish people to Rona Ramon and the Ramon family, the families of the American astronauts, US President George W. Bush, and the entire American people.

Times such as these strengthen the Israeli and American peoples’ common fate, identity and values, and shared vision. Ilan Ramon and his comrades aboard the space shuttle fell on the altar of science, progress and our common aspiration for a better life on this planet.

All Israelis bow their heads in the face of this terrible tragedy.

In memory of Ilan Ramon and his fellow astronaut heroes who perished on the space shuttle Columbia, Israeli and US flags will be lowered to half-mast tomorrow at the entrance to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer will attend a short ceremony at the start of tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting; Prime Minister Sharon and Ambassador Kurtzer will address the meeting.

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US President George W. Bush today (Saturday), February 1, 2003, telephoned Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and told him that today is a tragic day for both the families of the astronauts and for science. US President Bush said that he knows that a brave Israeli citizen – Colonel Ilan Ramon – was on board the space shuttle Columbia, and delivered the condolences and support of the entire American people, as well as his personal condolences and support, to the Ramon family, at this difficult hour.

Prime Minister Sharon delivered his sincerest condolences to the American people and the astronauts’ families, and added that is at moments such as these, that the hearts of the American and Israeli peoples beat as one. "Let us pray together and support each other," he said.