Lod Airport Massacre

From Academic Kids

On May 30, 1972 three members of the Japanese Red Army undertook a terrorist attack at Lod Airport in Tel Aviv on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Because airport security was focused on the possibility of a Palestinian attack, the use of Japanese terrorists took guards by surprise, and the commitment to a suicide mission simplified planning.

Kozo Okamoto, Tsuyoshi Okudaira, and Yasuyuki Yasuda had been trained at Baalbek, Lebanon. They arrived at the airport aboard an Air France flight from Paris. Dressed conservatively and carrying slim cases they attracted little attention. Entering the waiting area, they produced automatic firearms from their cases and began to fire indiscriminately at airport staff and visitors. The trio quickly expended their ammunition and grenades and then either committed suicide or fell under the fire of airport security staff. They killed twenty-four people and injured seventy-eight others. The victims included twenty pilgrims from Puerto Rico, and professor Aharon Katzir, an internationally renowned protein biophysicist, whose brother, Ephraim Katzir, would be elected President of Israel the following year. Yasuda and Okudaira died at the scene, Yasuda from Israeli fire and Okudaira by his own hand - he had moved from the airport building onto the landing area, after firing at passengers disembarking from an El Al aircraft and committed suicide using a grenade. Okamoto was severely injured but survived to be tried and sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1972.

In the letter claiming responsibility for the attack, the PFLP referred to it as Operation Dir Yassin. This was to portray it as revenge for the 1948 massacre by Israeli soldiers on Palestinian civilians in the village of the same name. The letter also stated that the operation was carried out by the Squad of the Martyr Patrick Arguello. Patrick Arguello had been shot and killed two years earlier, on 6 September 1970 on an Israeli El Al jet he had attempted to hijack together with PFLP member Leila Khaled.

Okamoto was released in 1985 with over a thousand other prisoners in an exchange with captured Israeli soldiers. He settled in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. He was arrested in 1997 but in 2000 was granted political refugee status in Lebanon. Four other JRA members arrested at the same time were extradited to Japan.

he:הטבח בנמל התעופה לוד


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