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On the night of 5 March 1975 at 11:00 PM, eight Palestinians in two teams landed by boat on the Tel Aviv beach. Shooting and throwing grenades, they captured the Savoy Hotel near the center of the city. The guests were taken hostage. The Palestinians threatened that if the Israelis did not release 20 Palestinian prisoners within four hours the hostages would be killed.
Early the next morning the Israeli counter-terrorist unit Sayeret Matkal stormed the hotel, killing seven of the perpetrators and capturing one. Five hostages were freed and eight were killed. Three soldiers, including the former Sayeret Matkal commander Uzi Yairi, were also killed. A few hours later the ship that transported the militants was captured and its crew were taken prisoner.
The Palestinian operation was planned by Abu Jihad in retaliation for a surgical raid that the Sayeret Matkal conducted in Beirut, Lebanon in April, 1973 (Operation Spring of Youth), where they killed three top PLO leaders.
Members of the Savoy Operation included Musa Juma al-Tallka, who was the only survivor, Muhammad Mashala, Hader Muhammad, Ziad Talk al-Zrir, Musa Awad, Muhammed al-Masri, Abu al-Lel, and Ahmed Hamid who were all killed by the Israeli commandos.
Although the hostage situation took place in the Savoy Hotel, the initial target of the Palestinians was the Israeli tourist city of Nahariya. Apparently the team was unable to locate the city on the night of the operation. Two months later, the operation's objectives were changed to the Manshiya Neighborhood Youth Club, and the Tel Aviv Opera Building. The contingency plan in case the original targets could not be located was to select any nearby populated buildings as targets. This resulted in the Savoy Hotel raid, as it was the only illuminated building on the street.
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