dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y



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8 MAY 1972


Incognito, in wigs and forged passports, four Palestinians board a Sabena jet at Brussels Airport. Of the four, two are Palestinian women, Rima Tannous Eissa, 21, and Therese Halaseh, 19. Both ladies wear special girdles made of highly explosive material; each have a hand grenade hidden in their beauty-cases with the detonators tucked in their bras. Approaching Sarajevo, the girls go to the washroom to remove their girdles: Rima handles the explosives, while Therese announces to the passengers over the intercom that they are being skyjacked by the Black September unit of the Palestinian guerrilla organization. “As you can see,” Captain Levy tells the 90 passengers, “we have friends aboard.”1
Touching down in Tel Aviv, the “friends” demand the release of 317 Palestinian commandos held in Israeli prisons. They warn that if their demands are not met, they will blow up the plane with the passengers still on board. They send Captain Levy over to the terminal with a sample of the hijacker’s explosives to show they mean business. He does more by telling the Israelis that, crucially, nothing is blocking the airplane’s emergency doors. In the first successful assault carried out on a passenger airliner, Israeli soldiers disguised as airplane mechanics and who include Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu, storm the plane and kill the two male commandos and one passenger. The female hijackers are captured.