Lod Airport massacre
Lod Airport massacre Location Lod Airport, Tel Aviv , Israel Coordinates Date May 30, 1972
12:04 – 12:28
Attack type Shooting spree Death(s) 26 (+ 2 attackers) Injured 79 Perpetrator(s) Three members of the Japanese Red Army, on behalf of the PFLP
The Lod Airport massacre was a terrorist attack that occurred on May 30, 1972, in which three members of the Japanese Red Army, on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), killed 26 people and injured 80 others at Tel Aviv's Lod airport (now Ben Gurion International Airport). Two of the attackers were killed, while the last survivor was captured after being wounded.
The dead comprised seventeen Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico, a Canadian citizen, and eight Israelis, including Professor Aharon Katzir, an internationally renowned protein biophysicist, whose brother, Ephraim Katzir, would be elected President of Israel the following year.
Because airport security was focused on the possibility of a Palestinian attack, the use of Japanese terrorists took the guards by surprise. The attack has often been described as a suicide mission, but it has also been asserted that it was the outcome of a larger operation (the particulars of which remain unpublicized) that went awry. The three perpetrators—Kōzō Okamoto, Tsuyoshi Okudaira, and Yasuyuki Yasuda—had been trained in Baalbek, Lebanon; the actual planning was handled by Wadie Haddad (a.k.a. Abu Hani), head of PFLP External Operations, with some input from Okamoto.
The men arrived at the airport aboard an Air France flight from Rome. Dressed conservatively and carrying slim violin cases, they attracted little attention. As they entered the waiting area, they opened up their violin cases and extracted Czech Vz 58 assault rifles with the butt stocks removed. Immediately afterwards, they began to fire indiscriminately at airport staff and visitors, and tossing grenades as they changed magazines. Yasuda was shot dead, and Okudaira moved from the airport building into the landing area, firing at passengers disembarking from an El Al aircraft before killing himself with a grenade. Okamoto was shot by security personnel and arrested as he attempted to leave the terminal.
- US citizens of Puerto Rico
- Reverend Angel Berganzo
- Carmela Cintrón
- Carmen E. Crespo
- Vírgen Flores
- Esther González
- Blanca González de Pérez
- Carmen Guzmán
- Eugenia López
- Enrique Martínez Rivera
- Vasthy Zila Morales de Vega
- José M. Otero Adorno
- Antonio Pacheco
- Juan Padilla
- Consorcia Rodríguez
- José A. Rodríguez
- Antonio Rodríguez Morales
- Carmelo Calderón Molina
- Israeli citizens
- Aharon Katzir – prominent scientist and brother of then future Israeli president Ephraim Katzir
- Yoshua Berkowitz
- Zvi Gutman
- Orania Luba
- Aviva Oslander
- Henia Ratner
- Shprinza Ringel
- Adam Tzamir
- Canadian citizen
- Lonna Sabah.
The Japanese public initially reacted with disbelief to initial reports that the perpetrators of the massacre were Japanese until a Japanese embassy official sent to the hospital confirmed that Okamoto was a Japanese national. Okamoto told the diplomat that he had nothing personal against the Israeli people, but that he had to do what he did because, "It was my duty as a soldier of the revolution." Okamoto then asked the diplomat, "Hasn't my father committed suicide yet?" (He had not.) Okamoto was tried by Israeli courts and sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1972.
In the letter claiming official responsibility for the attack carried out by the Japanese Red Army, the PFLP referred to it as Operation Deir Yassin. This was to portray it as revenge for the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre by Jewish Irgun members. The letter also stated that the operation was carried out by the Squad of the Martyr Patrick Arguello. Patrick Arguello had been killed two years earlier, on September 6, 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 for 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.
In June 2006, a legislative initiative by Puerto Rico Senator José Garriga Picó, Senate Project (PS) 1535, was approved by unanimous vote of both houses of the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico, making every May 30 "Lod Massacre Remembrance Day". On August 2, 2006, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, signed it into law as Law 144 August 2, 2006. The purpose of "Lod Remembrance Day" is to commemorate those events, to honor both those murdered and those who survived, and to educate the Puerto Rican public against terrorism. On May 30, 2007, the event was officially memorialized in Puerto Rico after 35 years.
North Korea trial
In 2008, the eight surviving children of Carmelo Calderón Molina, who was killed in the attack, and Pablo Tirado, son of survivor Pablo Tirado Ayala who was wounded in the attack, filed a lawsuit at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in San Juan, Puerto Rico, against the government of North Korea for its involvement in the massacre as a sponsor of the PFLP and the JRA, for providing material support to both organizations, and for planning the attack. The plaintiffs claim their right to sue the North Korean government based on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976. Preliminary hearings to examine evidence began on December 2, 2009, in the courtroom presided by U.S. Judge Francisco Besosa in the absence of any representatives of the North Korean government for their lack of response to the lawsuit. The victim's families were represented by attorneys from the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center including its founder, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
In July 2010, the US court ordered North Korea to pay $378 million to families as compensation for the terror attack.
- List of massacres in Israel
- ^ "The short-term impact of the Lod Airport massacre as a precursor to Munich..." Stephen Sloan, John C. Bersia, J. B. Hill. Terrorism: The Present Threat in Context, Berg Publisher, 2006, p. 50. ISBN 1845203445
- ^ "Two years later, just before the Lod Airport massacre, authorities uncovered the bodies of 14 young men and women on remote Mount Haruna, 70 miles northwest of Tokyo." "Again the Red Army", TIME, August 18, 1975.
- ^ "Those named by Lebanese officials as having been arrested included at least three Red Army members who have been wanted for years by Japanese authorities, most notably Kōzō Okamoto, 49, the only member of the attacking group who survived the Lod Airport massacre." "Lebanon Seizes Japanese Radicals Sought in Terror Attacks", The New York Times, February 19, 1997.
- ^ "They were responsible for the Lod Airport massacre in Israel in 1972, which was committed on behalf of the PFLP." Jeffrey D. Simon, The Terrorist Trap: America's Experience with Terrorism, Indiana University Press, p. 324. ISBN 0253214777
- ^ "In what became known as the Lod Airport Massacre three members of the terrorist group, Japanese Red Army, arrived at the airport aboard Air France Flight 132 from Rome. Once inside the airport they grabbed automatic firearms from their carry-on cases and fired at airport staff and visitors. In the end, 26 people died and 80 people were injured." CBC News, The Fifth Estate, "Fasten Your Seatbelts: Ben Gurion Airport in Israel", 2007. Accessed June 2, 2008.
- ^ Interview: Dr. Patricia Steinhoff 4 Neojaponisme, September 13, 2007. Accessed March 22, 2009.
- ^ Interview: Dr. Patricia Steinhoff 4
- ^ Burns, John F. (March 17, 2000). "Fate of 5 Terrorists Hangs Between Japan and Lebanon". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/03/17/world/fate-of-5-terrorists-hangs-between-japan-and-lebanon.html?pagewanted=1.
- ^ Schreiber, p. 215.
- ^ Schreiber, p. 215–216.
- ^ Schreiber, p. 216
- ^ "Israel used chocs to poison Palestinian"
- ^ http://www.swr.de/presseservice/archiv/2010/-/id=5749182/nid=5749182/did=6605332/1e8ty7a/index.html
- ^ http://www.primerahora.com/diario/noticia/policia/noticias/juicio_civil_contra_corea_del_norte_por_boricuas_muertos_en_atentado_de_1972_/348641
- ^ US court fines N. Korea over 1972 Israel terror attack , YNet 07.21.10
- Schreiber, Mark (1996). Shocking Crimes of Postwar Japan. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 4900737348.
- 1972: Japanese kill 26 at Tel Aviv airport (BBC news, On This Day, May 29, 1972).
- Ley Num. 144 de 2006, Ley para declarar el día 30 de cada año el "Día de la Recordación de la Masacre de Lod"
- Complaint and court documents from survivors' lawsuit against North Korea for supporting the JRA and PFLP
Prominent terrorist attacks against Israeli targets in the history of the Arab–Israeli conflict – the 1970s 1970 1972 1973Assassination of the Israeli attache in Washington (July 1) 1974 1975Savoy Hotel Attack (March 6) – Kfar Yuval hostage crisis (June 15) – Zion Square refrigerator bombing (July 4) 1976Kidnapping of Air France Flight 139 (June 27) 1978Coastal Road massacre (March 11) ‡ 1979Nahariya massacre (April 22) ← 1971 · Aviation accidents and incidents in 1972 · 1973 →
Jan 12 Braniff Flight 38
Jan 26 JAT Yugoslav Flight 367
Mar 03 Mohawk Airlines Flight 405
Mar 14 Sterling Airways Flight 296
Mar 19 EgyptAir Flight 763
May 05 Alitalia Flight 112
May 08 Sabena Flight 571
May 18 Eastern Air Lines Flight 346
May 30 Delta Air Lines Flight 9570
May 30 Lod Airport massacre
Jun 12 American Airlines Flight 96
Jun 14 Japan Airlines Flight 471
Jun 15 Cathay Pacific Flight 700Z
Jun 18 British European Airways Flight 548
Jun 24 Prinair Flight 191
Jun 29 1972 Lake Winnebago mid-air collision
Jul 05 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 708
Jul 31 Delta Air Lines Flight 841
Aug 14 Königs Wusterhausen disaster
Aug 16 Burma Airways Thandwe crash
Sep 24 Japan Airlines Flight 472
Oct 13 Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571
Nov 10 Southern Airways Flight 49
Nov 15 Ansett Airlines Flight 232
Nov 28 Philippine Airlines Flight 463
Nov 28 Japan Airlines Flight 446
Dec 08 United Airlines Flight 553
Dec 20 1972 Chicago-O'Hare runway collision
Dec 23 Braathens Flight 239
Dec 29 Eastern Air Lines Flight 401Incidents resulting in at least 50 deaths shown in italics. Deadliest incident shown in bold smallcaps.
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