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Arab Terrorists Attack El Al Passengers; Pilot Disregards Own Safety to Save Others

February 11, 1970
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An Israeli airline captain leaped on a grenade-throwing Arab terrorist at Munich Airport today as two other Arabs opened fire on a busload of El A1 passengers killing one and injuring seven passengers and two crew members. The action of Capt. Uri Cohen, chief pilot of El Al flight No. LY-435, was credited with saving many more lives. The dead passenger was identified as a Mr. Katzstein, 30, of Haifa. Four of the passengers were seriously injured by the gun-fire. among them Hannah Meron, a prominent Israeli stage and screen star. Another passenger on the bus was Assaf Dayan, actor son of Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. He was not injured.

Capt. Cohen was slightly wounded and hospitalized. The Arab terrorist had his hand blown off when the grenade exploded. The two other Arabs were wounded in a running gun-battle with Munich police and taken to a hospital. The eye-witness account was related here by Mordechai Ben Ari, president of El Al, Israel’s national airline, Mr. Ben Ari said he received his information by telephone from El Al officials in Munich. Other reports from Munich said 11 persons were wounded in the attack. Mr. Ben Ari identified the other injured passengers as a Miss Harvey, secretary of the World Film Service, a Mr. Ben Zion, a Mr. Doherty, a Mr. Grabash and a Mr. Katzstein, 57, father of the dead man. He identified one of the two injured crewmen as Mr. Okrand, the flight engineer.


According to Mr. Ben Ari the attack occurred at about 5 p.m. Munich time in front of Gate Five at the Munich air terminal. He said the bus, with 15 passengers aboard, was heading for the El Al plane which had arrived from Tel Aviv about 45 minutes earlier and was about to take off for London. He said Capt. Cohen threw himself on top of the Arab as he raised his arm to toss a grenade into the bus. The two other Arab terrorists opened fire on the bus with submachine guns. Other reports from Munich said two bombs exploded inside the air terminal lounge where passengers were waiting to board other flights. Count Wolf Dieter Castelle, director of Munich Airport said the terrorists probably disembarked from a Syrian airliner bound from Damascus to London which landed at Munich earlier and departed shortly before the attack on the El Al passengers. He said there was no evidence to support rumors that the attack was in retaliation for the alleged sabotage of an Egyptian airliner that crash-landed at Munich earlier in the day.

Mr. Ben Ari said that arrangements were made for the other passengers on the El Al flight to continue to London aboard planes of other airlines. They were transferred because Capt. Cohen was unable to continue the flight. The El Al Boeing 707 jet returned to Tel Aviv. Mr. Ben Ari said the incident would not disrupt El Al service. He observed that “These criminal and barbaric acts which are absolutely meaningless will not hinder the loyalty of passengers to an airlines and a country.”

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