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Terrorist Attack in Lisbon: Israel’s Ambassador to Portugal Wounded and a Body Guard Killed

November 14, 1979
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Israel’s Ambassador to Portugal, Ephraim Eldar, was wounded and one of his bodyguards killed in a terrorist attack in Lisbon this morning. According to Portuguese police reports, two men opened machinegun fire and threw hand grenades as the Ambassador was about to enter the Embassy building in central Lisbon. Eldar’s condition was reported as “good” by Lisbon’s Santa Maria Hospital where he was taken for emergency treatment with three bullet wounds in his legs.

The attack occurred at 9:30 a.m. local time as the Ambassador’s car drove up to the office building which houses the Israeli diplomatic mission in Lisbon. Two men in a white sedan were seen to be waiting. As soon as the Ambassador’s car drove up, one of the men walked to the car and opened fire while his accomplice threw several hand grenades as an apparent diversion.

The bodyguard, a Portuguese police detective, was killed on the spot. The driver and a uniformed policeman outside the building were seriously wounded. A woman passerby was also injured in the attack.

Last week, Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat opened a Palestinian solidarity conference in Lisbon and was received by Portuguese President Antonio Ramalho Eanes, Prime Minister Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo; and other top officials. Lisbon welcomed Arafat with the courtesies normally granted to visiting chiefs of state. Portuguese officials said at the time that Arafat’s reception was tantamount to a de facto recognition of the PLO’s status as representative of the Palestinian people.


The organizers of the Lisbon conference and the Association of Friends of the Arab Countries condemned the attack. Portugal’s State Radio said a spokesman for the PLO in Madrid denied any part in the attack. “Israel has enemies everywhere,” the PLO spokesman was quoted as saying.

But a spokesman for the Portugal-Israel Friendship Association said the attack was a result of the warm reception given Arafat in Lisbon. The office of the Prime Minister said she was deeply shocked by the attack. The Portuguese government denounced what it called a cowardly attack. It said Portugal had always urged an international climate of tolerance and human respect in the search for a political solution in the Middle East.

The Israeli Embassy in Lisbon issued a statement condemning “cowardly assassins,” expressing regret at the death of the Ambassador’s bodyguard and praising the action of Portuguese security forces and hospital authorities. Eldar, 44, became Israel’s first Ambassador to Portugal in 1977. Meanwhile, a major police manhunt is underway in Portugal with all border posts and airports being watched.

In Jerusalem, the Prime Minister’s Office Issued a statement saying: “The government of Israel strongly condemns the attack attempted by murderers against the Israeli Ambassador in Lisbon and conveys its deep sympathy for the family of the Portuguese policeman who was killed in the line of duty. The government of Israel expresses its wishes for the speedy recovery of the wounded Ambassador, his driver and guard. The government of Israel trusts that the government of Portugal will do everything possible to apprehend the perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to trial and also to ensure the absolute security of the Israel Embassy in Portugal in accordance with international law.”

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