After 35 years, first national memorial event for 91 victims of Tyre disaster

Officially caused by a gas leak, families of survivors call on govt. to release documents related to the incident

November 15, 2017 20:12
2 minute read.
Poster for the national memorial for Tyre disaster

Poster for the national memorial for Tyre disaster. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Israel will be holding the first national memorial event for the victims of the first Tyre disaster, 35 years after 91 people lost their lives.

Initiated by the children of three Israelis killed in the disaster, the ceremony will be attended by Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, General Staff Corps commander Maj.-Gen. Yossi Bachar, Border Police commander Kobi Shabtai, deputy director-general of the Defense Ministry and director of its Commemoration and Heritage Division Arye Moalem and chairman of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization Tami Selah.

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On November 11, 1982, a seven- story building housing the Israeli military headquarters in the Lebanon city of Tyre, known as the Liaison and Assistance Office, collapsed with people inside it.

The building also housed living quarters for Israeli soldiers and border police who had been holding thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians arrested by Israeli authorities, as well as the offices of Lebanese civil officials who were visited daily by citizens seeking permits and other documents.

The blast, which was initially thought to have been caused by a car bomb but later determined to have been a result of a gas leakage and inadequate construction of the building, led to the deaths of 67 IDF soldiers and Border Police officers, 9 Shin Bet officers, and 15 detainees.

But the official cause of the disaster has been disputed by many and the initiators of the commemoration for the victims have called on the government to release to the public all the investigative reports and protocols dealing with the circumstances behind the explosion.

“After 35 years, the families deserve the right to know what really happened there,” they said.

The initiators of the memorial event, Lior Bitan, Odelia Albo Schweitzer and Yaakov Stern, told The Jerusalem Post in a statement that they are grateful for the privilege of initiating the historic commemorative event for the victims of the Tyre disasters and to honor the wounded survivors.

“We see it as the first step in bringing catastrophic disasters such as this to the national consciousness,” they wrote.

Ben-Dahan told the Post that 35 years after the first Tyre disaster, the state “values their sacrifice and contribution” to the security of Israel.

“The Lebanon War removed the PLO and other terrorist forces from the northern border of the State of Israel for years.

The sacrifice of the victims of the first Tyre disaster was part of this campaign and today we value their sacrifice and their contribution to the security of the state.”

The collapse of the building in November 1982 was the deadliest incident for Israel since the Palestine Liberation Organization had been forced to withdraw from West Beirut two months earlier.

A year after the first Tyre disaster, a suicide bomber belonging to Palestinian Islamic Jihad carried out the first ever suicide car bombing, driving a truck packed with an estimated 600 tons of explosives into an IDF headquarters in the outskirts of Tyre, which held an Israel Securities Authorities and an Israel Border Police interrogations facility.

Considered as the first suicide bombing against Israel the attack brought down two buildings and killed 60 people, including 16 Border Police officers, 9 IDF soldiers, 3 Shin Bet officers and 31 of the 46 detainees held at the facility. Another 23 people were injured.

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