LONDON (Jul. 24)
Leading newspapers joined today in condemnation of the hijacking by Arab terrorists Tuesday of an El Al Israeli airliner and strongly advised the Algerian Government to release the plane and the Israeli passengers and crew detained in Algiers.
In Geneva, the International Air Transport Association, representing the world’s major carriers, issued a call to all Governments to take strong measures to prevent hijacking of airliners.
Israel had earlier appealed to the IATA and to the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency, for assistance in securing release of the Boeing 707 liner. The IATA appeal was supported today by the London Daily Mail which editorially denounced piracy in the air and revealed that Interpol, the international police organization, had been studying the increasing frequency of plane hijacking and possible measures to prevent it.
The London Daily Telegraph deplored the “total disarray of international law” applying to air piracy. It urged the Algerians to “act sensibly” by releasing the aircraft, its passengers and crew. The editorial commended Israel for its prudence in claiming the plane’s return “in mildest terms.”
In New York, an editorial in the New York Times stressed the need for more stringent international laws to control the growing threat of hijacking and called for immediate release of the plane, its crew and passengers. The editorial declared that “the common law of international custom and common decency dictate the prompt release of the plane, the crew and 15 Israeli passengers still detained in Algeria. For Algiers to do otherwise would be to make the Algerian Government a partner in piracy in the eyes of the world.”
The Algerian Government newspaper El Moujahid today praised the hijacking of the Boeing 707 airliner as a “bold exploit” and denounced Israel for seeking United Nations intercession.
The newspaper said the Israel complaints were “not valid” and aimed at “stirring up international opinion.” The terrorists who seized the plane were lauded for carrying out a “legitimate action.” El Moujahid said “El Al is not an airline company like others. It is a war instrument.”
The Algiers correspondent for the Paris daily Le Monde reported that the Government of President Hourari Boumedienne was embarrassed by the incident. A number of Paris newspapers, including Le Figaro, protested the hijacking.
In Rome, newspapers expressed concern about potential escalation dangers in hijacking. The Communist Party paper Unita saw a threat to Mediterranean air communications.