It was 40 years ago that Israel conducted the first skyjacking of a civilian airliner. On December 12, 1954, Israeli warplanes forced a Syrian Airways Dakota passenger craft carrying four passengers and five crewmen to land at Lydda airport inside Israel. The passengers were interrogated for two days before international protests, including strong complaints from Washington, finally convinced Israel to release the plane and its passengers. The purpose of the unprecedented skyjacking, according to Sharett, was Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan’s ambition “to get hostages in order to obtain the release of our prisoners in Damascus.” The reference was to an incident that had occurred four days earlier. Five Israeli soldiers were captured retrieving tapping devices on Syrian telephone lines on the Golan Heights inside Syria. Israel expressed outrage at the imprisonment of the soldiers but Syria refused to release them.
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