Charred remains of the hijacked bus, Egged museum, Holon

The Coastal Road Massacre of 1978 was a Palestinian terrorist attack involving the hijacking of a bus on Israel's Coastal Highway in which 38 Israeli civilians were killed, 13 of them children, and 71 were wounded.[1][2] The attack was planned by Abu Jihad[3] and carried out by the PLO faction Fatah. The plan was to hijack the bus to Tel Aviv, seize a luxury hotel and take tourists and foreign ambassadors hostage in order to exchange them for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.[4] The timing was aimed at scuttling peace talks between Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat.[5] Time magazine claimed that the attackers' intent was to "kill as many Israelis as possible."[5] Fatah called the hijacking "Operation of the Martyr Kamal Adwan,"[6] after PLO chief of operations killed in the Israeli commando raid on Beirut in April 1973.[7][8] In response, the Israeli military forces launched Operation Litani against PLO bases in Lebanon three days later.

Hijacking and shootout


Front end remains of the hijacked bus

On the morning of March 11, 1978, Dalal Mughrabi and her Palestinian Fedayeen 11 accomplices (including one other woman) landed by Zodiac boats on a beach near Ma'agan Michael north of Tel Aviv, having departed from Lebanon with a stash of Kalashnikov rifles, RPG light mortars and high explosives. They walked less than a mile up to the four-lane highway, opened fire at passing cars and hijacked a white Mercedes taxi, killing its occupants. [5]Setting off down the highway toward Tel Aviv, they met a bus on its way to Haifa. They fired at the bus, wounding its driver and some passengers and forcing it to a stop.They killed the American photographer Gail Rubin who was taking nature photographs nearby [9], and then hijacked a bus carrying Egged bus drivers and their families on a day outing, on the Coastal Highway.

While driving, Mughrabi and her unit opened fire and threw grenades at passing cars, shot at the passengers and dumped at least one body out of the bus.[5] At one point they commandeered another bus, and forced the passengers from the first bus to board the second one.[5] The bus was finally stopped by a police roadblock near Herzliya. A long shooting battle ensued between the hijackers and Israeli forces led by Ehud Barak.[10][11] Passengers who attempted to escape were shot.[5] Time magazine speculated that more hostages may have been killed by the wild shooting of the police than by the terrorists."[9] An explosion, caused either by an exploding fuel tank, or a grenade set the bus on fire.[12] Thirty-eight civilians were killed in the attack, thirteen of them children, and seventy-one were wounded.[13]


Criticism of security response

The Israeli security forces handling of the incident, including the final gun battle at the blockade where the bus was stopped,[5][9] led to widespread criticism in Israel. The security forces were also criticized for the fact that the militants were reportedly able to land undetected in broad daylight, and then move inland to ambush a taxi and then the two buses. There was also criticism that the security forces did not immediately block off the highway as soon as they were aware that a bus with hostages aboard had been hijacked.[47]

Coastal Road massacre statue

Memorial monument near Glilot Interchange at the coastal Highway

The attack triggered the Israeli Operation Litani against PLO bases in Lebanon three days later.

Glorification of hijackers

Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli NGO that monitors antisemitism and support for terrorism in Palestinian society, cites examples of Palestinian media that regard Dalal Mughrabi as a heroine and role model.[48] A Hebron girls' school was briefly named in honor of Mughrabi but the name was changed after it emerged that USAID was funding the school. Her name has also been given to summer camps and both police and military courses.[49]

On July 5, 2008 Al-Jazeera TV dedicated a program to Dalal al-Maghrabi. In the program, the host glorified the Coastal Road Massacre in which al-Maghrabi and eleven other terrorists murdered a total of 36 Israelis, and declared that "Heroism transcends the gender divide".[50]


Attending the Fatah convention in Bethlehem in August 2009, Khaled Abu Asba, one of perpetrators of the attack, said he felt no remorse for his actions.[51] Abu Absa, who spent seven years in prison in Ashkelon, was released in a prisoner exchange. He said he does not hate Israelis: "On the contrary, I admire many of them, such as my lawyer at the time, Leah Tsemel." [51]


  1. "1978, March 11. The Coastal Road Massacre" Richard Ernest Dupuy, Trevor Nevitt Dupuy. The Encyclopedia of Military History from 3500 B.C. to the Present, Harper & Row, 1986, ISBN 0061812358, p. 1362.
  2. "Operation Litani is launched in retaliation for that month's Coastal Road massacre." Gregory S. Mahler. Politics and Government in Israel: The Maturation of a Modern State, Rowman & Littlefield, 2004, ISBN 0742516113, p. 259.
  3. "Israel's successful assassinations" (in Hebrew). MSN. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  4. Moshe Brilliant, "Israeli officials Say Gunmen Intended to Seize Hotel," The New York Times, 13 March 1978
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 "A Sabbath of Terror", Time magazine, March 20, 1978.
  6. Edgar O'Ballance (1979). "Language of Violence: The Blood Politics of Terrorism", p.289, Presidio Press (Original from the University of Michigan), ISBN 0891410201, 9780891410201
  7. ""An Eye For An Eye"". CBS. Retrieved 2001-11-21. 
  8. Greenaway, HDS, "Arab Terrorist Raid in Israel Kills 30," Washington Post, 12 March 1978.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "Tragedy of errors". Time (magazine) March 27 1978.,9171,916011,00.html?promoid=googlep. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  10. MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH (May 31, 2003). "In search of stealthier attackers, Islamic Jihad encourages women to be suicide bombers". AP Worldstream. 
  11. Kamal Saleem, Lynn Vincent (2009). The Blood of Lambs: A Former Terrorist's Memoir of Death and Redemption. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 1416577807. 
  12. Kim Willenson, Milan J. Kubic and William E. Schmidt, "Slaughter in Israel," Newsweek, 20 March 1978
  13. Deeb, Marius (July 2003). Syria's Terrorist War on Lebanon and the Peace Process. Palgrave McMillian. p. 39. ISBN 1-4039-6248-0. 
  14. 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11 14.12 14.13 14.14 14.15 14.16 14.17 14.18 14.19 14.20 14.21 14.22 14.23 14.24 14.25 14.26 14.27 14.28 14.29 14.30 found at National Insurance Institute of Israel (NII)
  15. רויטל טלי אהרונוביץ ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  16. נעמי אליחי ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  17. ארז אלפנד ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  18. יצחק אלפנד ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  19. גלית אנקווה ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  20. יצחק איציק אנקווה ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  21. חביב אנקווה ז"ל  NII (Hebrew)
  22. מטילדה מטי אשכנזי דניאל ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  23. יהודה בסטרמן ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  24. רינה בושקניץ ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  25. דב בושקניץ ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  26. ליאת גלאון ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  27. שמעון גלוטמן ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  28. אמנון דרורי ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  29. נעמה הדני ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  30. אילן הוכמן ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  31. רועי הוכמן ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  32. רבקה הוכמן ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  33. מרדכי מוטי זית ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  34. יוסף חלואני ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  35. מלכה טוני ליבוביץ וייס ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  36. ציונה לוזיה כהן ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  37. אברהם לוזיה ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  38. אוטרי מנשרוב ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  39. יואב יואבי משקל ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  40. טוביה רוזנר ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  41. גייל רובין ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  42. מאיר סגל ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  43. קטיה רינה סוסינסקי ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  44. יוסף סוסינסקי ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  45. צבי צביקה עשת ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  46. אמרי תל-אורן ז"ל  (Hebrew)
  47. HDS Greenway, "Begin Hints Israel to Retaliate for Raid," Washington Post, 14 March 1978
  48. Special report # 39: Palestinian Culture and Society (Study #6 -Mar. 12,2002) "Encouraging Women Terrorists" by Itamar Marcus accessed 24/7/2008
  49. accessed 23/7/2008
  50. "In an Al-Jazeera TV Program on Palestinian Terrorist Dalal Al-Mughrabi, Al-Mughrabi's Sister Salutes Jerusalem Bulldozer Terrorist". MEMRI. July 8, 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  51. 51.0 51.1 Coastal road terrorist: No apologies, Haaretz

Coordinates: 32°8′52.64″N 34°48′11.35″E / 32.1479556°N 34.8031528°E / 32.1479556; 34.8031528cs:Masakr na pobřežní silnicino:Massakren på Israels kysthovedvei ru:Теракт на Прибрежном шоссе

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