Grim anger gripped Israel today (Wednesday) following the Lydda Airport carnage unleashed by a three-man Japanese suicide squad in the service of Arab guerrillas.
Grim anger gripped Israel today (Wednesday) following the Lydda Airport carnage unleashed by a three-man Japanese suicide squad in the service of Arab guerrillas. In Israel, it's being called the "Massacre of the Innocents". Twenty six people, two of them the attackers, died from bullets and exploding grenades in three minutes of sustained slaughter. Fourteen of the dead were Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico.
The third surviving member of the suicide squad told his Israeli captors that he belonged to the "Red Army" organisation in Japan, which was helping the Palestinians for ideological reasons. He reportedly revealed that he and his colleagues were trained in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
Much of the Israeli anger was immediately turned against the Lebanese. Prime Minister Golda Meir referred in Parliament to the role played by lebanon in harbouring guerrillas. She called on all countries of the world to take a tougher stand against airline attacks, and refereed indirectly to a possible airline boycott of Beirut.
There was also alarm that the Japanese squad had been able to smuggle their Soviet-made rifles and their grenades in luggage aboard an Air France flight from Rome.
SYNOPSIS: The bloody aftermath of Tuesday night's carnage at Lydda Airport, already being called the "Massacre of the Innocents" in Israel. A few hours earlier, a three-man Japanese suicide squad killed twenty-two people in a hail of bullets and exploding grenades. Two of the Japanese were also killed. The ene survivor has since admitted that they were members if the Japanese "Red Army", an organisation sympathetic to the cause of the Palestinian guerrilla movement. Fourteen of the dead were Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rice; another was a top Israeli scientist. Several dismembered victims remained unidentified.
The Israeli government immediately announced new security measures for the airport. Troops were sent in, and aircraft arriving from the Far East were halted at the and of the runway while all luggage was searched. The Japanese suicide squad, however, had flown to Lydda from Rome on a scheduled Air France flight. There was anger in the Israeli Parliament that the Japanese had been allowed to smuggle their guns and grenades on the aircraft in the first place.
General Dayan, the Israeli Defence Minister, paid a personal visit to the scene of the massacre. Israeli leaders were quick to express their horror at the attack. Prime Minister Golda Meir referred to the role of Lebanon in harbouring guerrillas and hinted at a possible airline boycott of Beirut. The Japanese survivor reportedly admitted that he and his comrades trained in guerrilla activities in Lebanon.
A total of nearly eighty people were wounded during the attack in the crowded airport. Many of them were being treated at this hospital. They were visited by Premier Meir before she went on to condemn the "dastardly crime" at a special session of Parliament. She also called for tougher international action against airline attacks. She said that the Lydda attack could have been easily prevented if proper security checks had been made. The bizarre participation of the Japanese in the Arab-Israeli quarrel caused embarrassment in Tokyo and brought anguished apologies from the japanese government.