Three Palestinian hijackers, who had taken over a Dutch airliner, freed their 83 hostages in Cyprus on Sunday (5 September) after being refused permission to land in Libya.
Three Palestinian hijackers, who had taken over a Dutch airliner, freed their 83 hostages in Cyprus on Sunday (5 September) after being refused permission to land in Libya. The hijackers were driven from the airport in a car with diplomatic number plates and were apparently taken to the Libyan embassy in Nicosia.
SYNOPSIS: The hijackers took over his KLM DC-9, seen here in Cyprus. The incident began over France on Saturday while on a flight from Malaga in Spain to Amsterdam in Holland. The hijackers demanded the release of eight pro-Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails and twice threatened to blow up the plane in mid-air with all the hostages on board. The decision to free the hostages came after more than two hours of negotiations between officials of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Libyan Embassy.
The passengers on board were mostly Dutch tourists returning home from the French Riviera. Their plane made a stop in Tunis before flying on here to Larnaca in Cyprus. In Tunis the aircraft's undercarriage was damaged by obstructions placed on the runway because the plane had landed despite the refusal of permission.
The damage was repaired by ground staff in Tunis. The jet's captain then radioed for permission to land at Larnaca for refuelling. Officials at this control tower sent a message back saying it would not be possible because of extension work, but permission was later granted as the plane was dangerously short of fuel.
Then preparations were made to fly the plane to Israel. Fuel was loaded for the flight, but the plane was tuned back by Israeli jet fighters near Tel Aviv. Israel refused to negotiate with the hijackers and later the Defence Minister, Shimon Peres, said the hijack had failed because of this. While the hijacking was in progress, he spoke to newsmen in Tel Aviv.
Extensive security precautions had been taken at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. Security forces were called in from many parts of the country to back up the already large number stationed at the airport. The airliner was escorted by two Israeli fighters when it entered Israeli air space. On the ground, the runways were blocked by large trucks and other obstacles to prevent a landing. The airport was closed to all traffic and ambulances stood by. Inside, army officials kept newsmen informed of every event during the hijacking and told them when the hostages were finally released.