The Coastal Road massacre of 1978 was an attack involving the hijacking of a bus on Israel's Coastal Highway in which 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children, were killed, and 71 were wounded. The attack was planned by Abu Jihad and carried out by the PLO faction Fatah. The plan was to seize a luxury hotel in Tel Aviv and take tourists and foreign ambassadors hostage in order to exchange them for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
According to a Fatah commander who had helped to plan the attack, the timing was aimed at scuppering the Israeli-Egyptian peace talks between Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat and damaging tourism in Israel. However, due to a navigation error, the attackers ended up 40 miles (64 km) north of their target, and were forced to find alternative transportation to their destination.
Time magazine characterized it as "the worst terrorist attack in Israel's history." Fatah called the hijacking "Operation of the Martyr Kamal Adwan", after the PLO chief of operations killed in the Israeli commando raid on Beirut in April 1973. In response, the Israeli military forces launched Operation Litani against PLO bases in Lebanon three days later.
|Coastal Road massacre|
|Part of Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon|
Remains of hijacked bus
The attack site
|Location||Coastal Highway near Tel Aviv|
|Date||March 11, 1978|
|Mass murder, spree killing, shooting attack|
|Weapons||Various weapons, possible grenade|
|Deaths||39 (38 civilians including 13 children, 1 Israeli soldier) + 9 attackers|
|Perpetrator||11 Palestinian assailants. The Palestine Liberation Organization claimed responsibility.|
On March 9, 1978, 13 Palestinian fedayeen from Fatah, including Dalal Mughrabi, left Lebanon on a boat headed for the Israeli coastline. They were equipped with Kalashnikov rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, light mortars and high explosives. On March 11, they transferred to two Zodiac boats and headed towards the shore. One of the Zodiacs capsized in the rough weather, and two of the militants drowned, but the surviving 11 carried on with their mission.
The terrorists landed on a beach near the kibbutz Ma'agan Michael, north of Tel Aviv. They met American photographer Gail Rubin, who was taking nature photographs on the beach, and asked her where they were. After she told them, they killed her. Both surviving attackers claimed that Mughrabi shot Rubin, who was a niece of United States Senator Abraham A. Ribicoff.
They then walked less than a mile up to the four-lane highway, opened fire at passing cars, and hijacked a white Mercedes taxi, killing its occupants. Setting off down the highway toward Tel Aviv, they hijacked a chartered bus carrying Egged bus drivers and their families on a day outing, along the Coastal Highway. During the ride, the militants shot and threw grenades at passing cars, shot at the passengers and threw at least one body out of the bus. At one point they commandeered Bus 901, traveling from Tel Aviv to Haifa, and forced the passengers from the first bus to board it.
At one point, the bus stopped, and one of the perpetrators got out and fired directly into a passing car, killing a teenager, Omri Tel-Oren, and injuring his father Hanoch. Sharon Tel-Oren, Omri's mother, testified: "We were in our station wagon, driving along the coastal highway. We saw something odd ahead – a bus, but it seemed to be stopped. Then we saw someone lying on the road. There was shattered glass all over, children screaming. Then we heard the gunshots. Omri was asleep in the back seat. The bullet passed through the front seat and hit his head, killing him instantly. My husband was shot in the arm, and lost the movement in his fingers."
Israeli police were alerted to the attack, and police cars caught up to the bus and began trailing it. Although the militants fired at the pursuing police cars, policemen did not return fire, fearing they would hit the civilians inside the bus. Police quickly set up a roadblock, but the militants plowed the bus through it and continued their journey. According to Khaled Abu Asba, one of the two surviving attackers, police set up multiple roadblocks, and there was an exchange of fire at every intersection.
The bus was finally stopped by a large police roadblock set up at the Glilot Junction near Herzliya, which included nails planted on the road to puncture the bus' tires. Due to the speed at which the attack was transpiring, Israeli counter-terrorism squads had been unable to mobilize quickly enough, and the roadblock was manned by ordinary patrolmen and traffic policemen, who were lightly armed in comparison to the militants and untrained in dealing with hostage situations. A firefight erupted, and police broke the bus' windows and yelled at passengers to jump.
Escaping passengers were shot at by one of the militants. According to the Israeli police, Assaf Hefetz, then head of the Israeli Police counter-terrorism unit, arrived at the scene before his unit, and stormed the bus, killing two militants. Hefetz sustained a shoulder injury during the battle, and was later awarded the Israeli Police Medal of Courage.
The battle reached its climax when the bus exploded and burst into flames. The explosion may have been set off by a burning fuel tank, or by grenades. The Palestinians claimed that the Israelis destroyed the bus with fire from helicopter gunships.
One motive for the attack from the PLO was to derail Egypt-Israel peace talks. In October 1976, Egypt, the PLO, and Syria were back in contact with each other, though temporarily, under Saudi auspices, at the Riyadh conference that year. In 1977 "...the United States appeared anxious to coordinate Arab approval of a Geneva peace conference, as well as the presence there of Palestinians, and most important, the cooperation of the Soviet Union."
Both the Egyptians and the Israelis were opposed to the possibility of a political settlement which would have the effect of uniting the Arabs with the Palestinians or the two super powers against Israel. "No less than Israelis, therefore, Sadat opposed the join US–USSR statement of October 1977. Not only did the statement put the Palestinian question on a par with the return of Egyptian territory, it almost meant a clear victory for Syrian pan-Arabism."
The US–USSR joint statement state the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict would be based on: "an Israeli withdrawal from 'occupied territories' in 1967; the resolution of the Palestinian question, including insuring the 'legitimate rights' of the Palestinian people; the termination of the state of war; and the establishment of normal peaceful relations on the basis of mutual recognition of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence."
Ultimately, America opted for an Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty as Anwar Sadat made a visit to Jerusalem in November 1977. In that treaty "the first item dropped was the question of Palestine as it had evolved through the United Nations; after that the US–USSR statement, and agreed upon Palestinian representation at the Geneva conference, were also dropped.". Anwar Sadat's main concern was the territory of Sinai to be returned to Egypt from Israel.
The two surviving perpetrators, Khaled Abu Asba and Hussein Fayyad, were captured and tried in an Israeli military court in Lod. They were charged with 10 counts of firing at people, two counts of placing and detonating explosives, and one count of membership in a hostile organization. Their trial opened on August 9, 1979. The trial was presided over by Judge Colonel Aharon Kolperin. The chief prosecutor was Amnon Straschnov, while Abu Asba and Fayyad were represented by defense lawyer Leah Tsemel. On October 23, 1979, they were convicted on all 13 charges. They were sentenced to life imprisonment, and spent seven years in prison before being released in the 1985 Jibril Agreement.
In a statement to the press the following day, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin stated, "They came here to kill Jews. They intended to take hostages and threatened, as the leaflet they left said, to kill all of them if we did not surrender to their demands.... We shall not forget. And I can only call upon other nations not to forget that Nazi atrocity that was perpetrated upon our people yesterday."
Speaking to the Knesset on March 13, Begin said, "Gone forever are the days when Jewish blood could be shed with impunity. Let it be known: Those who shed innocent blood shall not go unpunished. We shall defend our citizens, our women, our children. We shall sever the arm of iniquity."
On March 15, three days after the massacre, Israel launched Operation Litani against PLO bases in southern Lebanon. The IDF spokesman stated, "The objective of the operation is not retaliation for the terrorists' crimes, for there can be no retaliation for the murder of innocent men, women and children – but to protect the state of Israel and its citizens from incursions of members of the Fatah and PLO, who use Lebanese territory in order to attack citizens of Israel."
According to Augustus Richard Norton, professor of international relations at Boston University, the IDF military operation killed approximately 1,100 people, most of them Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.
Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli NGO that monitors antisemitism and support for terrorism in Palestinian society, has cited examples of Palestinian media that regard Dalal Mughrabi as a heroine and role model. A Hebron girls' school was briefly named in honor of Mughrabi but the name was changed after it emerged that USAID was funding the school. Her name has also been given to summer camps and both police and military courses. In February 2011 Palestinian Media Watch exposed a pan-Arab feminist media campaign promoting Mughrabi as a role model for women in the Arab world.
Several locations under Palestinian Authority control have been named after Mughrabi.
Palestinian Media Watch reported that, in January 2012, official Palestinian Authority television, which is under the control of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, rebroadcast a music video glorifying the attack. The words of the clip included: "We [PLO squad] set out on patrol from Lebanon; with no fear of death or the darkness of prison. On the coast [Dalal] Mughrabi's blood was shed, the color of [red] coral on [white] lemon flowers."
In 2011, a summer camp "which took place under the auspices of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad" divided the children into three groups named after militants, and one group was named for Mughrabi.
The 1972 Israeli Bangkok embassy hostage crisis occurred on 28 December 1972. It was a raid by a squad of Palestinian militants, belonging to the Black September militant organization, on the Israeli embassy building in Bangkok in which the militants held six Israeli embassy staff hostage. After 19 hours of negotiations, the hijackers agreed to abandon the embassy in exchange for safe conduct to Egypt.1974 Nahariya attack
The 1974 Nahariya attack was a raid by three Palestinian militants, belonging to the Fatah militant organization, which took place during the night between 24 and 25 June 1974. The Palestinian militant squad infiltrated the coastal city of Nahariya in Israel by sea from Lebanon. Three civilians and one Israeli soldier were killed during the event. The attack was the first time in which militants infiltrated into Israel from Lebanon by sea.1978 South Lebanon conflict
The 1978 South Lebanon conflict (code-named Operation Litani by Israel) was an invasion of Lebanon up to the Litani River, carried out by the Israel Defense Forces in 1978 in response to the Coastal Road massacre. The conflict resulted in the deaths of 1,100–2,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, 20 Israelis, the internal displacement of 100,000 to 250,000 people in Lebanon, and the PLO forces retreating north of the Litani River. It led to the creation of the UNIFIL peacekeeping force and an almost complete Israeli withdrawal.1978 in Israel
Events in the year 1978 in Israel.Avivim school bus bombing
The Avivim school bus massacre was a terrorist attack on an Israeli school bus on May 22, 1970 in which 12 civilians were killed, nine of them children, and 25 were wounded, one of whom died of a wound sustained in the attack 44 years later. The attack took place on the road to Moshav Avivim, near Israel's border with Lebanon. Two rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) were fired at the bus. The attack was one of the first carried out by the PFLP-GC.Coastal Road
Coastal Road may refer to:
Coastal Road (Mumbai), a freeway in Mumbai, India
Manila–Cavite Expressway, an expressway in the Philippines
Coastal Road massacre, the 1978 hijacking of a bus on the Coastal Highway (Highway 2) in IsraelDalal Mughrabi
Dalal Mughrabi (Arabic: دلال المغربي, Dalāl al-Muɣrabī; c. 1959 – 11 March 1978) was a Palestinian militant who was a member of the Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and participated in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre in Israel. The attack resulted in the death of 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children. Mughrabi and eight other militants were also killed in the course of the operation. While she has been hailed as a martyr and a national hero among many Palestinians, Israel and the United Nations has described her as a terrorist.Gail Rubin
Gail Rubin (April 12, 1938 – March 11, 1978) was an American freelance photographer. During her career, she worked as both a war photographer and a nature photographer. She was killed by Palestinians in a 1978 terrorist attack that became known as the Coastal Road massacre.Kfar Yuval hostage crisis
The Kfar Yuval hostage crisis, which took place during June 15, 1975, was a raid by a squad of Palestinian militants belonging to the Arab Liberation Front on the Israeli moshav of Kfar Yuval in which the militants took residents as hostages and attempted to bargain for the release of terrorists held in Israeli prisons. One person was killed during the takeover.
An IDF special unit freed the hostages and killed the four militants the same day. During the operation, an IDF soldier was killed, and his wife, one of the hostages, was fatally wounded.Kiryat Shmona massacre
The Kiryat Shmona massacre was an attack by three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command on civilians in the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona on 11 April 1974. Eighteen people were killed, nearly half of them children, and 16 were wounded.Ma'alot massacre
The Ma'alot massacre was a Palestinian terrorist attack that occurred in May 1974 and involved a two-day hostage-taking of 115 Israeli people which ended in the murders of over 25 hostages. It began when three armed members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) entered Israel from Lebanon. Soon afterwards they attacked a van, killing two Israeli Arab women while injuring a third and entered an apartment building in the town of Ma'alot, where they killed a couple and their four-year-old son. From there, they headed for the Netiv Meir Elementary School, where they took more than 115 people (including 105 children) hostage on 15 May 1974, in Ma'alot. Most of the hostages were teenagers from a high school in Safad on a Gadna field trip spending the night in Ma'alot. The hostage-takers soon issued demands for the release of 23 Palestinian militants from Israeli prisons, or else they would kill the students. On the second day of the standoff, the Sayeret Matkal stormed the building. During the takeover, the hostage-takers killed children with grenades and automatic weapons. Ultimately, 25 hostages, including 22 children, were killed and 68 more were injured.Sabena Flight 571
Sabena Flight 571 was a scheduled passenger flight from Brussels to Lod via Vienna operated by the Belgian national airline, Sabena. On 8 May 1972 a Boeing 707 passenger aircraft operating that service, captained by British pilot Reginald Levy, DFC, was hijacked by four members of the Black September Organization, a Palestinian terrorist group. Following their instructions, Captain Levy landed the plane at Lod Airport (later Ben Gurion International Airport).The attack, planned by Ali Hassan Salameh, was carried out by a group of two men and two women who pretended to be two couples: the group’s leader Ali Taha Abu Snina, plus Abed al-Aziz Atrash, Rima Tannous and Theresa Halsa. They were armed with two handguns, two hand grenades and two belts of explosives. Twenty minutes out of Vienna, the hijackers entered the cockpit. "As you can see," Captain Levy told the 90 passengers, "we have friends aboard." He concealed from the hijackers that his wife was a passenger on the plane.Savoy Hotel attack
The Savoy Hotel attack was a terrorist attack by members of the Palestine Liberation Organization against the Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv, Israel, on 4–5 March 1975.Swissair Flight 330
Swissair Flight SR330 was a regularly scheduled flight from Zurich International Airport in Kloten, Switzerland to Hong Kong with a planned stopover in Tel Aviv, Israel. A bomb was put on the plane and detonated by the Palestinian terror group PFLP-GC. This caused the plane to crash, killing all 47 passengers and crew.Yahya Skaf
Yahya Skaf, also spelled Yehia Skaff (Arabic: يحيى سكاف), from the Bhanine (Menyeh) district of Lebanon, is a person claimed to have been arrested by Israel on 11 March 1978 for participation in the Coastal Road massacre. Israel claims he was killed during battle with his body never found. It is claimed by the Khiam Center that his family and some released detainees have borne witness to his imprisonment.A supporter of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, he subsequently joined Fatah to participate in military operations against Israel.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah suggested Skaf be a part of a prisoner exchange during the 2006 Lebanon War. However, he was not included in the July 2008 prisoner exchange.Yosef Alon
Yosef (Joe) Alon (Hebrew: יוסף (ג'ו) אלון), born Josef Plaček known also as Joe Alon (July 25, 1929 – July 1, 1973), was an Israeli Air Force officer and military attache to the U.S. who was mysteriously shot and killed in the driveway of his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland.Zion Square refrigerator bombing
The Zion Square refrigerator bombing was a terrorist attack in downtown Jerusalem, Israel on Friday, July 4, 1975 in which 15 civilians were killed and 77 wounded.
Prominent Palestinian militancy attacks in the 1970s
|Within the Gaza Strip|
|Aircraft attacks and hijackings|
* Attacks launched from Lebanon 1960s 1980s