History of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Part 2

About the history of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the conflict with Israel.



In December, 1968, an El Al jet was attacked at the Athens airport and one passenger was killed. The two PFLP terrorists were tried and imprisoned, but were later released as ransom after the hijacking of a Greek plane.

In February, 1969, an El Al jet was attacked in Zurich and a crewman was killed.

Succeeding attacks linked to the PFLP include the bombing of an Austrian plane, which managed to land safely; the sabotage of a Swissair jet, which crashed, killing all 47 aboard; the bombing of Jerusalem's Hebrew University and a market in the holy city; an attack on a bus at Munich airport that killed one Israeli; and the rocketing of an Israeli school bus, which killed the driver, three teachers, and eight children.

The PFLP does not, however, limit itself to Israeli targets or to targets which have some connection with Israel.

During the late 1960s, the Palestinian terrorists' base of operations was in Jordan, where a large number of Palestinian refugees reside. King Hussein's rule is enforced by his fiercely loyal Bedouin army. In September, 1970, tensions between the regime and the Palestinians came to a head as the terrorists increasingly asserted themselves in Jordan. The result was a brutal civil war. While escalating Israeli reprisals on terrorist bases in Jordan played a role in sparking the civil war, a major cause was the Jarring peace mission, about which George Habash said, "If a settlement is made with Israel, we will turn the Mideast into a hell."

They did. The Red Cross estimates that 3,000 died in the conflict; Jordanian sources place the figure much lower. At the same time, September, 1970, the PFLP engineered the simultaneous hijacking of three jets: a TWA Boeing 707, a Swissair jetliner, and a Pan Am jumbo jet, all bound for New York. The first two were held in Jordan for ransom. The Pan Am plane was taken to Cairo, where it was blown up seconds after the passengers were evacuated. A fourth attempt, on an El Al plane, failed. A fifth attempt, this one on a BOAC jet, succeeded, and it too was taken to Jordan, where it was blown up, along with the TWA and Swissair jets.

After recovering from the Jordanian war and switching its base of operations to Lebanon, the PFLP commenced operations once more. In 1972, PFLP (or PLFP-instigated) attacks included the Lod International Airport massacre, in which Japanese Red Army terrorists, under instructions from the PFLP, opened fire in the Israeli airport and killed 24 (four more later died of wounds). A Lufthansa jet was hijacked to Yemen by five men later identified as PFLP commandos. The passengers and crew were released, but the plane was ransomed for $5 million from the German government.

In 1975 the PFLP was implicated in the kidnapping of 11 oil ministers, the majority of them Arabs, and 81 other hostages, from an OPEC conference in Vienna. The six guerrillas shot and killed three persons and wounded seven others. The incident was reportedly executed by the mysterious Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, also known as "Carlos" or "the Jackal," and it included two West German terrorists. PFLP leader George Habash denied that his group was involved.

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