Lod Airport massacre

Lod Airport massacre

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The Lod Airport massacre was a terrorist
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 attack that occurred on May 30, 1972, in which three members of the Japanese Red Army
Japanese Red Army
The was a Communist terrorist group founded by Fusako Shigenobu early in 1971 in Lebanon. It sometimes called itself Arab-JRA after the Lod airport massacre...

, on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is a Palestinian Marxist-Leninist organisation founded in 1967. It has consistently been the second-largest of the groups forming the Palestine Liberation Organization , the largest being Fatah...

 (PFLP), killed 26 people and injured 80 others at Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

's Lod
Lod
Lod is a city located on the Sharon Plain southeast of Tel Aviv in the Center District of Israel. At the end of 2010, it had a population of 70,000, roughly 75 percent Jewish and 25 percent Arab.The name is derived from the Biblical city of Lod...

 airport (now Ben Gurion International Airport
Ben Gurion International Airport
Ben Gurion International Airport , also referred to by its Hebrew acronym Natbag , is the largest and busiest international airport in Israel, handling 12,160,339 passengers in 2010...

). Two of the attackers were killed, while the last survivor was captured after being wounded.

The dead comprised seventeen Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, a Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 citizen, and eight Israelis, including Professor Aharon Katzir
Aharon Katzir
Aharon Katzir was an Israeli pioneer in the study of the electrochemistry of biopolymers. He was killed in the Lod Airport Massacre in 1972.-Biography:...

, an internationally renowned protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

 biophysicist
Biophysics
Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that uses the methods of physical science to study biological systems. Studies included under the branches of biophysics span all levels of biological organization, from the molecular scale to whole organisms and ecosystems...

, whose brother, Ephraim Katzir
Ephraim Katzir
Ephraim Katzir was an Israeli biophysicist and former Israeli Labor Party politician. He was the fourth President of Israel from 1973 until 1978.-Biography:...

, would be elected President of Israel
President of Israel
The President of the State of Israel is the head of state of Israel. The position is largely an apolitical ceremonial figurehead role, with the real executive power lying in the hands of the Prime Minister. The current president is Shimon Peres who took office on 15 July 2007...

 the following year.

Because airport security
Airport security
Airport security refers to the techniques and methods used in protecting airports and aircraft from crime.Large numbers of people pass through airports. This presents potential targets for terrorism and other forms of crime due to the number of people located in a particular location...

 was focused on the possibility of a Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 attack, the use of Japanese
Japanese people
The are an ethnic group originating in the Japanese archipelago and are the predominant ethnic group of Japan. Worldwide, approximately 130 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 127 million are residents of Japan. People of Japanese ancestry who live in other countries...

 terrorists took the guards by surprise. The attack has often been described as a suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 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
Kozo Okamoto
was a 24-year-old botany student from a respectable middle-class family when he was recruited to the Japanese Red Army . He was later detained in Lebanon. During his stay in Lebanon, Okamoto converted to Islam in what was seen as an attempt to avoid being returned to Japan...

, Tsuyoshi Okudaira, and Yasuyuki Yasuda—had been trained in Baalbek
Baalbek
Baalbek is a town in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, altitude , situated east of the Litani River. It is famous for its exquisitely detailed yet monumentally scaled temple ruins of the Roman period, when Baalbek, then known as Heliopolis, was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Empire...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

; the actual planning was handled by Wadie Haddad
Wadie Haddad
Wadie Haddad , also known as Abu Hani, was a Palestinian doctor of medicine and the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's armed wing...

 (a.k.a. Abu Hani), head of PFLP External Operations, with some input from Okamoto.

The attack


The men arrived at the airport aboard an Air France
Air France
Air France , stylised as AIRFRANCE, is the French flag carrier headquartered in Tremblay-en-France, , and is one of the world's largest airlines. It is a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM Group and a founding member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance...

 flight from Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. 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
El Al
El Al Israel Airlines Ltd , trading as El Al , is the flag carrier of Israel. It operates scheduled domestic and international services and cargo flights to Europe, North America, Africa and the Far East from its main base in Ben Gurion International Airport...

 aircraft before killing himself with a grenade. Okamoto was shot by security personnel and arrested as he attempted to leave the terminal.

Fatalities


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
    Aharon Katzir
    Aharon Katzir was an Israeli pioneer in the study of the electrochemistry of biopolymers. He was killed in the Lod Airport Massacre in 1972.-Biography:...

     – prominent scientist and brother of then future Israeli president
    President of Israel
    The President of the State of Israel is the head of state of Israel. The position is largely an apolitical ceremonial figurehead role, with the real executive power lying in the hands of the Prime Minister. The current president is Shimon Peres who took office on 15 July 2007...

     Ephraim Katzir
    Ephraim Katzir
    Ephraim Katzir was an Israeli biophysicist and former Israeli Labor Party politician. He was the fourth President of Israel from 1973 until 1978.-Biography:...

  • Yoshua Berkowitz
  • Zvi Gutman
  • Orania Luba
  • Aviva Oslander
  • Henia Ratner
  • Shprinza Ringel
  • Adam Tzamir


Canadian citizen
  • Lonna Sabah.

Aftermath


The Japanese public initially reacted with disbelief to initial reports that the perpetrators of the massacre
Massacre
A massacre is an event with a heavy death toll.Massacre may also refer to:-Entertainment:*Massacre , a DC Comics villain*Massacre , a 1932 drama film starring Richard Barthelmess*Massacre, a 1956 Western starring Dane Clark...

 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
Japanese Red Army
The was a Communist terrorist group founded by Fusako Shigenobu early in 1971 in Lebanon. It sometimes called itself Arab-JRA after the Lod airport massacre...

, the PFLP referred to it as Operation Deir Yassin. This was to portray it as revenge for the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre
Deir Yassin massacre
The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 fighters from the Irgun Zevai Leumi and Lohamei Herut Israel Zionist paramilitary groups attacked Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, a Palestinian-Arab village of roughly 600 people...

 by Jewish Irgun
Irgun
The Irgun , or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title , was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary organization haHaganah...

 members. The letter also stated that the operation was carried out by the Squad of the Martyr Patrick Arguello. Patrick Arguello
Patrick Argüello
Patricio José Argüello Ryan , known as Patrick Argüello, was a Nicaraguan American who was shot and killed while attempting to hijack El Al Flight 219 in September 1970 as part of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's Dawson's Field hijackings.-Youth:Argüello was born in San...

 had been killed two years earlier, on September 6, 1970 on an Israeli El Al
El Al
El Al Israel Airlines Ltd , trading as El Al , is the flag carrier of Israel. It operates scheduled domestic and international services and cargo flights to Europe, North America, Africa and the Far East from its main base in Ben Gurion International Airport...

 jet he had attempted to hijack together with PFLP member Leila Khaled
Leila Khaled
Leila Khaled is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine . She is currently a member of the Palestinian National Council...

.

Okamoto was released in 1985 with over a thousand other prisoners in an exchange for captured Israeli soldiers. He settled in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

's Bekaa Valley. He was arrested in 1997, but in 2000 was granted political refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

 status in Lebanon. Four other JRA members arrested at the same time were extradited
Extradition
Extradition is the official process whereby one nation or state surrenders a suspected or convicted criminal to another nation or state. Between nation states, extradition is regulated by treaties...

 to Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

.

In June 2006, a legislative initiative by Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 Senator José Garriga Picó, Senate Project (PS) 1535, was approved by unanimous vote of both houses of the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico
Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico
The Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico is the territorial legislature of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The structure and responsibilities of the Legislative Assembly are defined in Article III of the Constitution of Puerto Rico....

, making every May 30 "Lod Massacre Remembrance Day". On August 2, 2006, the Governor of Puerto Rico
Governor of Puerto Rico
The Governor of Puerto Rico is the Head of Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Since 1948, the Governor has been elected by the people of Puerto Rico...

, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
Aníbal Salvador Acevedo Vilá is a Puerto Rican politician and lawyer. He served as the eighth Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a Commonwealth of the United States, from 2005 to 2009. He is a Harvard University alumnus and a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico School of Law,...

, 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.

On July 8, 1972, Ghassan Kanafani
Ghassan Kanafani
Ghassan Kanafani was a Palestinian writer and a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He was assassinated by car bomb in Beirut, allegedly by the Mossad.- Early years :Ghassan Fayiz Kanafani was born in 1936 in the then Acre , British Mandate of Palestine...

, Palestinian short story writer and spokesperson for the PFLP, was assassinated in retaliation for the attack. His niece also died in the Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

 car bomb.

In early 1978, Wadie Haddad
Wadie Haddad
Wadie Haddad , also known as Abu Hani, was a Palestinian doctor of medicine and the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's armed wing...

, the primary organiser of the attack, was assassinated by Mossad.

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
San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan , officially Municipio de la Ciudad Capital San Juan Bautista , is the capital and most populous municipality in Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 395,326 making it the 46th-largest city under the jurisdiction of...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, against the government of North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 for its involvement in the massacre as a sponsor of the PFLP and the JRA, for providing material support
Providing material support for terrorism
Providing material support for terrorism is a provision of the USA PATRIOT Act which prohibits material support to groups designated as terrorists. The four types of support described are “training,” “expert advice or assistance,” “service,” and “personnel.” In June 2010 the United States Supreme...

 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
Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 is a United States law, codified at Title 28, §§ 1330, 1332, 1391, 1441, and 1602-1611 of the United States Code, that establishes the limitations as to whether a foreign sovereign nation may be sued in U.S. courts—federal or state...

 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
Shurat HaDin
Shurat HaDin, Israel Law Center , founded in 2003, is a Tel Aviv-based NGO focused on using litigation to fight against terrorism.-History:...

 Israel Law Center including its founder, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is a controversial Israeli lawyer, Human rights activist and founder of Shurat Hadin Israeli Law Center. She is known for her legal activism, especially campaigns to sue terror organizations and terrorists on behalf of victims...

.

In July 2010, the US court ordered North Korea to pay $378 million to families as compensation for the terror attack.

External links