Coastal Road massacre
|Coastal Road massacre|
|Part of Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon|
Remains of hijacked bus
|Location||Coastal Highway near Tel Aviv|
|Date||March 11, 1978|
|Attack type||Mass murder, spree killing, shooting attack|
|Weapon(s)||Various weapons, possible grenade|
|Deaths||38 Israeli civilians (including 13 children)|
|Injured (non-fatal)||71 were wounded.|
|Perpetrator||11 Palestinian assailants. The Palestinian Liberation Organization claimed responsibility.|
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. The timing was aimed at scuttling peace talks between Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat. 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.
On the morning of March 11, 1978, eleven Palestinian militants including Dalal Mughrabi landed by Zodiac boats on a beach near Ma'agan Michael north of Tel Aviv, having departed from Lebanon with a stash of Kalashnikov rifles, rocket propelled grenades, light mortars and high explosives. They met American photographer Gail Rubin, who was taking nature photographs on the beach, and after she told them where they in fact were, they killed her. 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 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 another bus, and forced the passengers from the first bus to board the second one.
The bus was finally stopped by a police roadblock near Herzliya, and a long shootout ensued. Passengers who attempted to escape were shot by one of the terrorists. Time Magazine speculated that more hostages may have been killed by the wild shooting of the "terrified" Israeli traffic policemen than by the militants, since there was not time enough for special Israeli antiterrorist squads to arrive on the scene. Furthermore it was speculated that the fire may have driven some of the terrorists to commit suicide, killing as many passengers as possible with them. An explosion, caused either by an exploding fuel tank or a grenade, set the bus on fire.
38 Israeli civilians were killed in the attack, 13 of them children, and 71 were wounded.
Palestinian militant group PLO claimed responsibility for the attack, which was executed by eleven Palestinian militants including Dalal Mughrabi.
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 uniting of the Arabs with the Palestinians and 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."
Yet, then, America quickly changed its mind and opted for an Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty as Anwar Sadat made a surprise 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 Sinia to be returned to Egypt from Israel.
The US–USSR joint statement was a huge feat for Palestinian politics. That feat was then quickly destroyed as the United States was more concerned with an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. The PLO thus conducted the attack on Israel in order to disrupt the solely Egyptian-Israeli peace process and turn back to the question of Palestine.
A survivor, Sharon Tel-Oren, whose 14-year old son was killed, described the attack: "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. "Imri was asleep in the back seat. The bullet passed though the front seat and hit his head, killing him instantly. My husband was shot in the arm, and lost the movement in his fingers."
- Involved parties
- Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin stated in a press conference that Israel "shall not forget the carnage" and added that "there was no need of this outrage to understand that a Palestinian state would be a mortal danger to our nation and our people."
- The PLO official stated that "the operation stems from the firm belief of Fatah in the necessity of carrying on the armed struggle against the Zionist enemy within the occupied land."
- Egypt: Egyptian president Anwar Sadat condemned the attack as "an irresponsible action" and indirectly appealed to Israel not to strike back.
- United States: US president Jimmy Carter released a statement saying the attack was a "an outrageous act of lawlessness and senseless brutality. Criminal acts such as this advance no cause or political belief. They inspire only revulsion at the lack of respect for innocent human life."
In a statement to the press the following day, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin stated, "They came here in order to kill the Jews. They intended to take hostages, and threatened, as the leaflet they left said, to kill all of them if we do 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: The shedders of 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 glorification of hijackers
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, that 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 terrorists, and one group was named for Mughrabi.
While there was no time to order special Israeli antiterrorist squads before the confrontation, and the Israeli rescue attempt was reportedly led by some 30 "terrified traffic cops," armed with .38 revolvers and UZI submachine guns, a British journalist spread a rumor that Ehud Barak shot at the terrorist's dead body as it lay on the road. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida claimed that Barak stuck the bayonet of his rifle into her body and "performed atrocities on intimate parts of her body." Itamar Marcus of the Palestinian Media Watch called the allegations "revolting libel." In fact, Barak was studying for an MSc in Engineering-Economic Systems at Stanford University, California, and was not in Israel at the time.
- "1978, March 11. The Coastal Road Massacre" Richard Ernest Dupuy, Trevor Nevitt Dupuy (chamel). The Encyclopedia of Military History from 3500 B.C. to the Present, Harper & Row, 1986, ISBN 0-06-181235-8, p. 1362.
- "Operation Litani is launched in retaliation for that month's Coastal Road massacre." Gregory S. Mahler. Politics and Government in Israel: The Maturation of a Modern State, Rowman & Littlefield, 2004, ISBN 0-7425-1611-3, p. 259.
- "Israel's successful assassinations" (in Hebrew). MSN. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
- Moshe Brilliant, "Israeli officials Say Gunmen Intended to Seize Hotel," The New York Times, March 13, 1978
- "A Sabbath of Terror", Time magazine, March 20, 1978.
- "Tragedy of errors". Time (magazine) March 27, 1978. March 27, 1978. Retrieved 2008-06-01.
- Edgar O'Ballance (1979). "Language of Violence: The Blood Politics of Terrorism", p.289, Presidio Press (Original from the University of Michigan), ISBN 0-89141-020-1, ISBN 978-0-89141-020-1
- "An Eye for an Eye". CBS. November 20, 2001. Retrieved 2001-11-21.
- Greenaway, HDS, "Arab Terrorist Raid in Israel Kills 30," Washington Post, March 12, 1978.
- Coastal road terrorist: No apologies, Haaretz. According to Abu Absa, one of the surviving Palestinian perpetrators, Mughrabi was the only woman in the group and she was not the commander.
- Kim Willenson, Milan J. Kubic and William E. Schmidt, "Slaughter in Israel," Newsweek, March 20, 1978
- Deeb, Marius (July 2003). Syria's Terrorist War on Lebanon and the Peace Process. Palgrave McMillian. p. 39. ISBN 1-4039-6248-0.
- found at National Insurance Institute of Israel (NII)
- רויטל טלי אהרונוביץ ז"ל (Hebrew)
- נעמי אליחי ז"ל (Hebrew)
- ארז אלפנד ז"ל (Hebrew)
- יצחק אלפנד ז"ל (Hebrew)
- גלית אנקווה ז"ל (Hebrew)
- יצחק איציק אנקווה ז"ל (Hebrew)
- חביב אנקווה ז"ל NII (Hebrew)
- מטילדה מטי אשכנזי דניאל ז"ל (Hebrew)
- יהודה בסטרמן ז"ל (Hebrew)
- רינה בושקניץ ז"ל (Hebrew)
- דב בושקניץ ז"ל (Hebrew)
- ליאת גלאון ז"ל (Hebrew)
- שמעון גלוטמן ז"ל (Hebrew)
- אמנון דרורי ז"ל (Hebrew)
- נעמה הדני ז"ל (Hebrew)
- אילן הוכמן ז"ל (Hebrew)
- רועי הוכמן ז"ל (Hebrew)
- רבקה הוכמן ז"ל (Hebrew)
- מרדכי מוטי זית ז"ל (Hebrew)
- יוסף חלואני ז"ל (Hebrew)
- מלכה טוני ליבוביץ וייס ז"ל (Hebrew)
- ציונה לוזיה כהן ז"ל (Hebrew)
- אברהם לוזיה ז"ל (Hebrew)
- אוטרי מנשרוב ז"ל (Hebrew)
- יואב יואבי משקל ז"ל (Hebrew)
- טוביה רוזנר ז"ל (Hebrew)
- 'Gail Rubin,' Jewish Women's Encyclopedia
- גייל רובין ז"ל (Hebrew)
- מאיר סגל ז"ל (Hebrew)
- קטיה רינה סוסינסקי ז"ל (Hebrew)
- יוסף סוסינסקי ז"ל (Hebrew)
- צבי צביקה עשת ז"ל (Hebrew)
- אמרי תל-אורן ז"ל (Hebrew)
- Said, Edward (1992). The Question of Palestin. Vintage Books. p. 201.
- Said, Edward (1992). The Question of Palestine. Vintage Books. p. 201.
- Khouri, Fred. The Arab-Israeli Dilemma. pp. 397–398.
- Said, Edward (1992). The Question of Palestin. Vintage Books. p. 202.
- The dolls' journey to Israel, Jerusalem Post
- The Telegraph-Herald – Google News Archive Search
- Reading Eagle – Google News Archive Search
- The Pittsburgh Press – Google News Archive Search
- "Statement to the press by Prime Minister Begin on the massacre of Israelis on the Haifa – Tel Aviv Road". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. March 12, 1978. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
- "Statement to the Knesset by Prime Minister Begin on the terrorist raid and the Knesset resolution". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. March 13, 1978. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
- "Israel Defense Forces statement on the operation in Lebanon". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. March 15, 1978. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
- Augustus Richard Norton; Jillian Schwedler (1993). "(In)security Zones in South Lebanon". Journal of Palestine Studies (University of California Press) 23 (1): 61–79. JSTOR 2537858.
- Israeli Violations of Human Rights of Lebanese Civilians. B'Tselem. 2000. pp. 12–13.
- "Palestinian Media Watch web site".
- Special report # 39: Palestinian Culture and Society (Study No. 6 -March 12, 2002) "Encouraging Women Terrorists" by Itamar Marcus, http://palwatch.org/STORAGE/special%20reports/Encouraging_Women_Terrorists.pdf, accessed July 24, 2008
- ""Case study: Dalal Mughrabi from terrorist to hero", Palestinian Media Watch web site, accessed 2/21/2012".
- http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=13227 accessed July 23, 2008
- Marcus, Itamar; Zilberdik, Nan Jacques (February 13, 2011). "UN asks PMW to publicize that UN was not behind Arab media campaign presenting terrorist as role model". Palestine Media Watch. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
- 32 Years Since Coast Road Attack – Defense/Middle East – News – Israel National News
- Incitement is not one-sided – JPost – Opinion – Op-Eds
- PA TV songs glorify most lethal terror attack in Israel's history
- PA summer camp names children's group after Dalal Mughrabi, Palestinian Media Watch, July 20, 2011
- Israel-Hizbullah prisoner exchange: profiles – Ian Black and Hugh McLeod – The Guardian
- Israel-Hezbollah prisoner swap – Hugh McLeod – San Francisco Gate
- Who’s who of the prisoner swap – Zahra Hankir and Sharad Venkat – NOW Lebanon
- Encouraging Women Terrorists
- Globalsecurity.org: Ehud Barak
- 32nd anniversary of the coastal massacre – published at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- 30 Die in Rampage by Terrorists in Israel – published on the Los Angeles Times on March 12, 1978
- 30 die after terrorists attack 2 buses in Israel – published on the Boston Globe on March 12, 1978
- Fatah admits raid – published on the New York Times on March 12, 1978