Night of the Gliders


Night of the Gliders
Night of the Gliders
Israel outline northeast.png
Red pog.svg
The attack site
Location In northern Israel near the border with Lebanon
Coordinates 33°13′23″N 35°36′06″E / 33.22306°N 35.60167°E / 33.22306; 35.60167
Date November 25, 1987
Attack type Shooting attack
Weapon(s) AK-47 assault rifle, a pistol with a silencer, and several hand grenades
Death(s) 6
Injured 8
Perpetrator(s) PFLP-GC

Night of the Gliders (Hebrew: ליל הגלשונים‎, Leil HaGilshonim), or the Kibia action, refers to an incident that took place on November 25, 1987, in which two Palestinian guerillas infiltrated into Israel from South Lebanon using hang gliders to launch a surprise attack against Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers. Six Israeli soldiers were killed and eight others wounded. Both Palestinian guerillas were also killed.

Contents

Background

In 1987, Israel was occupying a security zone in Southern Lebanon. One of the organizations fighting Israel there was Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC), a Damascus-based Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) splinter group.

The fence along the border made it difficult to cross into Israel. In March 1981, a similar attempt was made when an intruder, using a motorized hang glider reached Haifa Bay, but was caught by Israeli forces.[1]

The attack

On the night of November 25, 1987, two PFLP-GC soldiers took off from Southern Lebanon, perhaps from a Syrian controlled area, armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, a pistol with a silencer, and several hand grenades. The gliders were powered by a lawn mower-size engine and a small propeller.[2][3]

The engine was heard by several soldiers, and at 10:30 PM the Israeli Northern Command was alerted to the danger of an infiltration. An alarm was sounded, flares were fired and helicopters were sent out to search for the gliders, but without success, as the gliders were flying as low as tree level. However, at the Gibor army camp, about two miles east of Kiryat Shmona, no security precautions had been taken thirty minutes after the alarm was issued and no additional guards had been posted at the camp's gate.[2] It was later discovered that an early intelligence warning was neglected due to lack of attention.[4]

One of the gliders landed in the security zone, and the Palestinian was later tracked down and killed by Israeli troops.[2] The second landed near the Gibor camp. The Palestinian spotted a passing army truck outside the base and opened fire on it, killing the driver and wounding a female soldier riding with him. He then headed towards a nearby army encampment manned by Nahal Brigade soldiers some 175 meters away. He hurled grenades and sprayed automatic fire at the sentry, who panicked and ran away, allowing him free entry into the encampment. He then fired his AK-47 and threw grenades into tents being used by Israeli soldiers, killing five and wounding seven, but was then shot and killed by an Israeli officer who had been wounded.[2][3]

Aftermath

Israeli reactions

A monument near Kiryat Shmona commemorating the victims of the attack.

The IDF was heavily criticized by the Israeli press. The headline of Maariv read "Foul-Up in the North - A Blow to the Army". The press also called for an investigation as to how the infiltration was possible.[5] Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir blamed Syria for the attack, saying "It is clear that they could not have done it without the patronage and the help of the Syrians", and stated that Israel held Syria responsible.[2] Deputy Chief of Staff (Ramatkal) Ehud Barak vowed that the PFLP-GC "will in due time pay the price".[3] Speaking before the Knesset on November 30, Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin sent his condolences to the families of the casualties. He assured the residents of the Galilee that the IDF will do the best they can to prevent similar raids. However, he admitted that "all the steps required by orders and procedures were not taken in this camp, which led to the grave consequences."[1]

At first, the only soldier indicted was the sentry, who was sentenced to a six months imprisonment.[6] Only following public pressure did Chief of Staff Dan Shomron decide to take further proceedings and transfer the brigade operations officer from his position.[4][7] This gave birth to the phrase "The sentry syndrome" (Tismonet HaShin-Gimel), meaning that a system is trying to shake off responsibility for a failure by putting all the blame on the lowest possible rank.[8][9]

A monument commemorating the casualties of the incident was raised near Kiryat Shmona.[10]

Palestinian reactions

The PFLP-GC assumed responsibility for the attack, which was seen as a morale boost.[11] On December 3, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat praised the attack, saying "The attack demonstrated that there could be no barriers or obstacles to prevent a guerrilla who has decided to become a martyr."[7] Palestinian newspapers in the West Bank placed the story on their front headlines and in colored ink, but were prevented from printing anything but the barest details of the incident by the Israeli Military Censor.[5] Palestinians began taunting Israeli troops, crying "six to one", and the writing "6:1" appeared on walls in Gaza.[12] On December 9, riots broke in the Gaza Strip, marking the beginning of the First Intifada. The incident is often seen as a catalyst for the riots.[4][11][13]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "292 Statement in the Knesset by Defense Minister Rabin". Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 1987-11-30. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign%20Relations/Israels%20Foreign%20Relations%20since%201947/1984-1988/292%20Statement%20in%20the%20Knesset%20by%20Defense%20Minister%20R. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Friedman, Thomas L. (1987-11-27). "Syria-Based Group Says It Staged Israel Raid". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE0D61239F934A15752C1A961948260. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  3. ^ a b c "Death from the Skies". Time. 1987-12-07. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,966139,00.html?iid=chix-sphere. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  4. ^ a b c Oren, Amir (2006-10-18). "Secrets of the Ya-Ya brotherhood". Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/775582.html. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  5. ^ a b Friedman, Thomas L. (1987-11-28). "Israeli Army Assailed Over Glider Raid". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE6DE153AF93BA15752C1A961948260. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  6. ^ Luvitch, Vered (2001-08-25). "From the Night of the Gliders to Marganit". Ynet. http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/1,7340,L-1051689,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-13.  (Hebrew)
  7. ^ a b Reuters (1987-12-04). "Israelis Face Charges Over Raid". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DEED61030F937A35751C1A961948260. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  8. ^ Sharvit, Noam (2008-04-28). "This time the sentry isn't guilty". Globes. http://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1000336523&fid=829. Retrieved 2008-05-15.  (Hebrew)
  9. ^ Shteif, Hadas (2006-12-06). "Apparent: The sentry Syndrome in rapist investigation". msn. http://192.117.152.51/news/CriminalLawCourt/Law/200612/20061206045153.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-15.  (Hebrew)
  10. ^ Gadot, Yifat (2005-11-25). "Night of the Gliders". nfc. http://www.nfc.co.il/ArticlePrintVersion.aspx?docId=86649&subjectID=1. Retrieved 2008-05-13.  (Hebrew)
  11. ^ a b Neff, Donald. "The Intifada Erupts, Forcing Israel to Recognize Palestinians". Washington Report on Middle East Affairs December 1997: 81–83. http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/1297/9712081.html. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  12. ^ Morris, Benny (1999). Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999 (1st ed.). Knopf. pp. p. 561. ISBN 0679421203. 
  13. ^ Shai, Shaul (2005). The Axis of Evil: Iran, Hizballah, and the Palestinian Terror. Transaction Publishers. pp. p. 74. ISBN 0765802554. 

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