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The Crossroads of Special Operations

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The RAF hero who saved 99 lives in Black September plane hijack 50 years ago today: How pilot sent coded SOS after gun-toting terrorists forced him to land in Israel… allowing Special Forces to storm jet and save all but one passenger | DailyMail

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How an RAF hero initiated, a remarkable hostage rescue mission / 50 years have passed since the incident. 

On May 8, 1972, Four Black September hijackers took control of Sabena Airlines Flight 571, capturing ninety people, including the pilot’s wife. The Hijackers forced a landing at Lod airport. The RAF hero and Pilot, Reginald Levy was able to transmit a coded message asking for assistance from Israeli authorities. The Israeli defense minister devised a plan to rescue the passengers in which Captain Levy played a crucial part. Flight 571 was flying from Brussels to Tel Aviv via Vienna. Four black September terrorist planned to transport the crew and passengers to Egypt, where they would be kept captive until the release of over 300 terrorist. The successful hijacking might have resulted in catastrophe and massive loss of life if not for the quick thinking of the British Captain, and WWII veteran. During the Second World War, Captain Levy had flown Halifax heavy bombers out of Snaith, East Yorkshire. He participated in the bombing of Hamburg and the assault on the Nazi rocket development center at Peenemunde.

‘As you can see, we have friends on board,’ Captain Levy calmly informed his passengers. He sent a coded communication to Israeli officials approximately around the same time, informing them of the hijacking. After receiving the coded SOS, Israel’s Defence Minister Captain Moshe Dayan formulated a plan to foil the terrorist plot. Captain Levy convinced the terrorist to allow him to go to Lod’s Control tower to schedule undercarriage maintenance that was integral to being able to take off. However, Captain Levy met with an Israeli Commando unit which was sent to intervene. After giving the the crack team detailed descriptions of the hijackers, Pilot levy led the 16 person Commando team back to the aircraft, where they boarded and eliminated two male hijackers and captured two others in just minutes. Captain Levy celebrated his 50th birthday on the runway in Lod while assisting Israel’s commando unit.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, who both later served as prime minister of Israel, were members of the elite commando unit involved. A misfired gunshot from one of his fellow commandos struck Netanyahu during the operation.

One female passenger was killed as a consequence of the ambitious rescue mission. Captain Levy, a Jew, was quickly praised for his valor. Israel hailed Captain Levy as a hero and hosted him with Prime Minister Ehud Barak for dinner.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10796711/How-RAF-hero-helped-save-99-lives-Black-September-plane-hijack-50-years-ago-today.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

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