Lod Airport massacre

Lod Airport massacre
Lod Airport massacre
Israel outline center ta.png
Red pog.svg
The attack site
Location Lod Airport, Tel Aviv , Israel
Coordinates 31°59′42.4″N 34°53′38.65″E / 31.995111°N 34.8940694°E / 31.995111; 34.8940694
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[1][2][3][4] 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).[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]


The attack

The men arrived at the airport aboard an Air France flight from Rome.[8] 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.[9]


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
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."[10] 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.[11]

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.

On July 8, 1972, Ghassan Kanafani, Palestinian short story writer and spokesperson for the PFLP, was assassinated in retaliation for the attack. His niece also died in the Beirut car bomb.

In early 1978, Wadie Haddad, the primary organiser of the attack, was assassinated by Mossad.[12][13]

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.[14]

In July 2010, the US court ordered North Korea to pay $378 million to families as compensation for the terror attack.[15]

See also

  • List of massacres in Israel


  1. ^ "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
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ "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
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ Interview: Dr. Patricia Steinhoff 4 Neojaponisme, September 13, 2007. Accessed March 22, 2009.
  7. ^ Interview: Dr. Patricia Steinhoff 4
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Schreiber, p. 215.
  10. ^ Schreiber, p. 215–216.
  11. ^ Schreiber, p. 216
  12. ^ "Israel used chocs to poison Palestinian"
  13. ^ http://www.swr.de/presseservice/archiv/2010/-/id=5749182/nid=5749182/did=6605332/1e8ty7a/index.html
  14. ^ http://www.primerahora.com/diario/noticia/policia/noticias/juicio_civil_contra_corea_del_norte_por_boricuas_muertos_en_atentado_de_1972_/348641
  15. ^ US court fines N. Korea over 1972 Israel terror attack , YNet 07.21.10[1]



  • Schreiber, Mark (1996). Shocking Crimes of Postwar Japan. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 4900737348. 

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