Seven Palestinian commandoes serving seven year prison sentences for bomb and gun attacks in Cyprus, left Nicosia for Cairo late Thursday (6 December), after being unexpectedly released by the Cyprus Government.
GV Nicosia Airport Building at night
GV Cars carrying Arabs arrive
SV Arabs out of car and give "V" sign and are greeted by their lawyer Mr. Clerides
SV Arabs talking to Mr. Clerides, and Clerides talking to policeman
SV Arabs go aboard aircraft and wave (2 shots)
Initials AE/21.25 AE/21.35
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Background: Seven Palestinian commandoes serving seven year prison sentences for bomb and gun attacks in Cyprus, left Nicosia for Cairo late Thursday (6 December), after being unexpectedly released by the Cyprus Government.
One of the seven, sentenced in July this year for conspiracy to attack the Israeli Ambassador's residence and an Israeli airliner at Nicosia Airport, told an airport official upon arrival in Cairo, Friday (December 7), that President Makarios had signed a document for their release.
Three young Arabs who hijacked a Dutch Jumbo jet over Iraq on November 25, forced the pilot to land in Nicosia and sent a message to the Cyprus President demanding the release of the seven Palestinians.
The three hijackers claimed to represent the "Organisation of Nationalist Arab Youth for the Liberation of Palestine" - a similar title used by the seven who were jailed.
The Israeli Ambassador in Cyprus, Rahamim Timor, on Friday expressed regret that the seven commandoes had been freed.
Mr. Timor said the Government had not informed him of its decision to free the Arabs, who exploded 45 pounds (80 kilos) of dynamite at the entrance to his apartment and critically wounded a Cyprus police guard.
"Israel regrets very much the freeing of people serving sentences for such actions. We do not think that amnesties granted to terrorists will help to contribute to preventing such acts in future", said Mr. Timor.
The seven looked well-dressed at Nicosia Airport as they chatted with their lawyer Mr. Lefkos Clerides before flying off.
On their arrival at Cairo they were surrounded by security men and were driven off to an unknown destination.