El Al Flight 426 hijacking

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El Al Flight 426
Boeing 707-458, El Al Israel Airlines AN0692227.jpg
4X-ATA, the aircraft involved, seen 10 years after the hijack
DateJuly 23, 1968
Aircraft typeBoeing 707
OperatorEl Al
Flight originLondon Heathrow Airport
StopoverRome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport
DestinationLod Airport (renamed Ben Gurion International Airport)
Passengers38 (Including 3 hijackers)
Survivors48 (Including 3 hijackers)

El Al Flight 426 was an El Al passenger flight hijacked on July 23, 1968 by three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), setting off a wave of hijackings by the PFLP.[1]


The aircraft, a Boeing 707, was scheduled to fly from Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome to Lod Airport, now known as Ben Gurion International Airport. The plane was diverted to Algiers.[2][3]

After the aircraft departed Rome, the pilots requested coffee from the cabin crew. As the coffee was being brought up to the pilots, two of the hijackers forced their way through the door to the flight deck, one of them clubbed the flight engineer with the butt of his pistol and ordered the plane to fly to Algiers. The remaining hijacker threatened the passengers with a pistol and an unpinned hand grenade.

When the plane landed at Dar El Beida, Algerian authorities grounded the plane. The following day they sent all non-Israeli passengers to France on Air Algérie Caravelle jets. Ten women and children were released over the weekend. The remaining 12 Israeli passengers, and the crew of 10 were held as hostages for the remainder of the hijacking. The hijackers were identified as members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They were equipped with Iranian and Indian passports. The hijackers were carefully chosen by the PFLP because of their occupations (a pilot, a colonel in the Palestinian army, and a karate teacher).

The Israeli and Algerian governments negotiated the return of the hostages and plane through diplomatic channels. Five weeks later, everyone was released in exchange for 16 convicted Arab prisoners.[1] According to the BBC, lasting 40 days, it was the longest hijacking of a commercial flight.[4]

Pilot Oded Abarbanell later wrote a memoir of his experience during the hijacking.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Drama of the Desert: The Week of the Hostages". Time.com. 21 September 1970. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  2. ^ "Skyway Robbery". Time.com. 2 August 1968. Archived from the original on 12 January 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  3. ^ Emergency Management Net Hijack list Archived July 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "History of airliner hijackings". BBC. 3 October 2001. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  5. ^ "Hijacking to Algiers".
  6. ^ "This Day in Jewish History / The First and Only el al Hijacking". Haaretz.