Two Israelis, 9/11 Widow Among Dead in Plane Crash Near Buffalo

George Abu-Karam, 27, settled in Tiberias after serving in the now-defunct South Lebanon Army.

Two Israelis were among dozens killed in a plane crash near Buffalo on Friday. One of them, George Abu-Karam, was a 29-year-old resident of Tiberias and a veteran of the now-defunct South Lebanon Army. Abu-Karam was in the United States visiting relatives. Another Israeli living in the U.S. was also on board the Continental flight.

A friend of Abu-Karam who served with him in the SLA told Haaretz that he was like a brother. "He was an amazing person and he acclimated himself very quickly in Israel," the friend said. "He had many friends who loved him very much."

Oded Zafti, the owner of a bistro bar near Lake Kinneret which employed Abu-Karam as a security guard, said: "He was a man with a good soul, enterprising and devoted. The staff received the news with shock. It is difficult for us to digest this and we bow our heads."

Abu-Karam's father was also an SLA veteran. He passed away following a battle with cancer three years ago. George left behind a mother and four sisters.

Beverly Eckert, the widow of a victim of the September 11 attacks in 2001 who became a prominent advocate for victims and survivors, was among those killed in Thursday's commuter plane crash near Buffalo, New York, relatives said.

Eckert's husband Sean Rooney died in the World Trade Center in New York, destroyed after Al-Qaida hijackers seized jetliners and crashed them into the two towers.

Eckert became a prominent member of Voices of September 11, a group formed to provide services for those affected by the attacks and which promoted policy reforms on prevention, preparedness and responses to terrorism.

President Barack Obama paid tribute on Friday: "She was an inspiration to me and to so many others, and I pray that her family finds peace and comfort in the hard days ahead."

The Buffalo News quoted Eckert's sister Sue Bourque as saying she was on the plane that crashed on Thursday evening, killing all 49 on board and one person on the ground.

"We know she was on that plane, and now she's with him," Bourque said.

Eckert, who lived in Connecticut, was travelling to Buffalo to celebrate what would have been her husband's 58th birthday, the newspaper said.

"She was a strong and passionate voice for the families of the 9/11 tragedy," New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said of Eckert in a statement expressing condolences for all those killed in Thursday's crash.

Continental Airlines had not yet released a list of passengers on Flight 3407, which was operated by Colgan Air.