Sabena Flight 571 : サベナ航空572便ハイジャック事件

Sabena Flight 571 was a scheduled passenger flight from Brussels to Lod via Vienna operated by the Belgian national airline, Sabena. On 8 May 1972 a Boeing 707 passenger aircraft operating that service, captained by British pilot Reginald Levy, DFC, was hijacked by four members of the Black September Organization, a Palestinian terrorist group. Following their instructions, Captain Levy landed the plane at Lod Airport (later Ben Gurion International Airport).

The attack, planned by Ali Hassan Salameh, was carried out by a group of two men and two women who pretended to be two couples: the group’s leader Ali Taha Abu Snina, plus Abed al-Aziz Atrash, Rima Tannous and Theresa Halsa. They were armed with two handguns, two hand grenades and two belts of explosives. Twenty minutes out of Vienna, the hijackers entered the cockpit. “As you can see,” Captain Levy told the 90 passengers, “we have friends aboard.” He concealed from the hijackers that his wife was a passenger on the plane.

Hijacking

Soon after taking command, the hijackers separated the Jewish hostages from the others and sent them to the back of the aircraft. When the plane had landed, the hijackers demanded the release of 315 convicted Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel, and threatened to blow up the airplane with its passengers. Captain Levy managed to send the Israelis a coded message requesting help. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Transport Minister Shimon Peres, who would become Prime Minister and later President of Israel, conducted negotiations with the hijackers while preparing a rescue operation, code-named “Operation Isotope.” Captain Levy said he talked to the hijackers about everything “from navigation to sex” while the passengers and crew waited to be rescued.

On 9 May 1972 at 4:00 p.m. the rescue operation began: a team of 16 Sayeret Matkal commandos, led by Ehud Barak and including Benjamin Netanyahu, both future Israeli Prime Ministers, approached the aircraft disguised as aircraft technicians in white coveralls. Having immobilized it during the preceding night, they convinced the hijackers that its hydraulic system needed repair. (There was an unexpected last minute bathroom-break delay for one of the team members.) They then stormed the aircraft, killing both male hijackers within two minutes. They also captured the two women hijackers and rescued all 90 remaining passengers. Three passengers were wounded in the exchange of fire, one of whom, 22-year-old Miriam Anderson, later died of her injuries. Netanyahu was also wounded during the rescue when another commando, Marko Ashkenazi, accidentally discharged his gun as he used it to hit Theresa Halsa. The bullet passed through her and penetrated Netanyahu’s bicep.

Aftermath

Halsa and Rima Tannous were eventually sentenced to life imprisonment—Halsa for 220 years. They were freed in November 1983, in a prisoner exchange after the 1982 Lebanon War.

Sabena continued to operate the aircraft for another five years, until it was purchased by Israel Aircraft Industries. It was eventually sold to the Israeli Air Force, and served as a spy plane for many years, participating in most of the Air Force’s long-range operations.

Captain Levy, a Royal Air Force veteran who took part in strategic bombing missions over Germany during World War II and also in the Berlin airlift, had joined Sabena in 1952. He retired in 1982 and died of a heart attack, at a hospital near his home in Dover on 1 August 2010. The hijacking took place on his 50th birthday.

In media

  • From Night Flak to Hijack: It’s A Small World, autobiography by Captain Reginald Levy DFC.
  • Sabena Hijacking: My Version, Israeli docudrama depicting the hijacking and rescue, in which 3 Prime Ministers of Israel were involved.

サベナ航空572便ハイジャック事件は1972年5月8日に発生したハイジャック事件である。軍の特殊部隊によるハイジャック制圧の先例として、その後、世界各国の治安当局に大きな影響を与えた。

事件の経緯

1972年5月8日、ベルギーのサベナ・ベルギー航空が運行していた572便(ボーイング707、機体記号OO-SJG)が、イスラエルのテルアビブに向けて経由地のウィーンを離陸した後で、武装したパレスチナの過激派組織・黒い九月のメンバー4人によってハイジャックされた。犯行グループは進路はそのままテルアビブのロッド空港(現在のベン・グリオン国際空港)に着陸させた。この計画を立案したのはアリー・ハサン・サラーマで、4人組のリーダーはアリ・ターハであった。

犯行グループは、有罪を宣告されてイスラエル国内の刑務所に収監されている315人のパレスチナ人テロリスト全員の釈放を要求した。そして要求が聞き入れられない場合は、572便を乗客・乗員諸共爆破すると脅し、一度は実際に爆破の準備に取り掛かった。しかし、同機のレジナルド・レヴィ機長が犯人を説得して事なきを得ている。イスラエルの国防相のモーシェ・ダヤンが犯人側と交渉を開始、同時に「アイソトープ作戦」と名づけられた救出作戦に取り掛かった。

翌9日の午後4時、後にイスラエルの首相を務めるエフード・バラック率いるイスラエル国防軍の特殊部隊サイェレット・マトカル(Sayeret Matkal)の精鋭16名からなるチームが、救出作戦を開始した(サイェレット・マトカルはイスラエル特殊部隊の中でもさらに選りすぐった部隊で、対テロ制圧や急襲に特化し、後にエンテベ空港奇襲作戦も成功させることになる)。制圧チームは全員が航空整備士を偽装し白い作業着を着用し、犯人側を欺いて行動。制圧劇は10分で終了し、犯人の内、2人は射殺され、残る2人も逮捕された。乗客3人が機内での銃撃戦で負傷、そのうち1人はその後、亡くなった。なお、「世界の救出作戦 (文庫版新戦史シリーズ 土井 寛著」によると、救出作戦の成功はレヴィ機長の献策によるところが大きく、機長の冷静な対応が惨事を防いだと評された。

逮捕された2人はともに女性で、終身刑が宣告されたが、1982年のイスラエル国防軍のレバノン南部への侵攻作戦後の捕虜交換で釈放された。

572便の機体は損傷も少なく、サベナ航空はこの後5年ほど使用したが、最終的にイスラエル空軍に売却され、長距離偵察任務に使われた。

後のイスラエル首相ベンヤミン・ネタニヤフもサイェレット・マトカルの一員としてこの制圧作戦に参加している。

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