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A history of El Al incidents

Published: 11:39AM Friday July 05, 2002

El Al, Israel's state airline, has been the target of shootings, hijackings and bomb attempts on numerous occasions and now enjoys a reputation as the world's most tightly guarded passenger carrier.

Travellers are individually interrogated and baggage goes through multiple screening even before check-in. Armed guards oversee airport areas and are believed to fly aboard aircraft.

Israelis proudly point to their record at deterring attacks in spite of a wide range of enemies and many attempts.

Here are some of the major incidents involving El Al:

July 4, 2002 - Gunman kills two people at El Al counter in Los Angeles International airport before El Al guards shoot him dead.

Oct 5, 1992 - El Al Boeing 747 cargo plane ploughs into apartment building in Amsterdam, killing up to 200 people.

April 17, 1986 - Anne Murphy, a pregnant Irishwoman, caught at London's Heathrow airport carrying a bomb in a false-bottomed bag aboard an El Al jumbo jet carrying 375 people. She had been given the bomb without her knowledge by a man subsequently linked to Syrian intelligence. He was jailed for 45 years.

December 27, 1985 - After several attempts at direct attacks on El Al fail, guerrillas of Abu Nidal's hardline Fatah Revolutionary Council attack El Al counters simultaneously at Rome and Vienna airports, killing 19 people.

May 30, 1972 - Three members of the Japanese Red Army, apparently recruited by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), kill 26 people and wound 76 with grenades and automatic rifles at Tel Aviv airport.

February 18, 1969 - Guard on El Al plain on tarmac at Zurich airport kills PFLP gunman among a group who open fire, wounding the pilot and killing the co-pilot.

December 26, 1968 - Two PFLP gunmen fire on Israeli plane parked at Athens airport, killing an Israeli mechanic. In reprisal, Israel blows up 14 Arab aircraft at Beirut airport.

July 22, 1968 - El Al Boeing 707 from Rome to Tel Aviv hijacked and flown to Algiers by three PFLP members. After five days, foreigners, women and children freed. Twelve Israeli men held for 39 days until swapped for 15 Palestinians in Israeli jail.

July 27, 1955 - Bulgarian MiG fighters shoot down El Al Constellation airliner en route from London to Tel Aviv via Vienna. All 58 aboard die. Communist authorities accuse plane of entering Bulgarian airspace illegally but later apologise.

© Reuters