Hijacked plane to land at Hatzerim

The Israel Air Force Museum at Hatzerim, outside Beersheba, will soon gain a prominent new member in its collection of historic airplanes, reports www.mynet.co.il. The Boeing 707, hijacked by Palestinian terrorists from the Black September faction on a flight from Brussels (via Vienna) to Israel in 1972, will be moved to Hatzerim at a cost of NIS 1 million after museum head and recently defeated Beersheba mayor Ya'akov Turner insisted it should be preserved as "a national message." According to the report, Belgian airline Sabena's Flight 572 was flying from Vienna to Lod on May 8, 1972, when it was hijacked by the four terrorists, who threatened to blow it up and demanded the release of hundreds of prisoners held by Israel. The plane landed at Ben-Gurion Airport and a day later, while negotiations were ostensibly taking place, a team of 16 special forces commandos disguised as airplane technicians stormed the aircraft, killing two of the terrorists and capturing the remaining two. Several passengers were wounded in the rescue, and one woman later died of her injuries. The commandos were led by current Defense Minister Ehud Barak and included current Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, former Mossad director Danny Yatom, and former Deputy Chief of General Staff Uzi Dayan. The airplane itself continued to be operated by Sabena until 1977, when it was purchased by the Israel Air Force and used operationally for many years. It was then transferred to Israel Aircraft Industries. The report said that Turner, a former air force head, learned that the plane had been put up for sale because it was no longer useful to the air force, but that no buyer had been found and that IAI was planning to sell it cheaply as scrap. Turner said he was dismayed that anyone would want to sell the historically significant airplane, especially for scrap, and called air force officials to stop the sale and to tell them that he was taking the plane to the museum. "Through it (the airplane) we will tell the story of airborne terrorism and how it was overcome... this is a national message," Turner said. The report said the plane would be taken apart at the IAI factory and the parts would be transported to Hatzerim, where the plane would be re-assembled and placed on display next to the Boeing used in the 1976 Entebbe rescue.