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Israel Aid to U.S. in Hijack Reported

August 03, 1986|From Reuters

TEL AVIV — Israel gave the United States key intelligence that enabled it to capture the Palestinian hijackers of the Achille Lauro cruise ship last year, Israel state radio said Saturday.

Gen. Uri Simchoni, Israel's military attache in the United States, was in the White House situation room when the decision was made to intercept an EgyptAir plane carrying the Palestinian guerrillas over the Mediterranean, the radio's Washington correspondent reported.

The radio said Simchoni, now ending his tour of duty in Washington, passed on Israeli intelligence that enabled warplanes of the U.S. 6th Fleet to intercept the EgyptAir Boeing 737 and forced it to land at a military base in Sicily.

The Palestinians were captured Oct. 10, three days after they hijacked the Italian cruise liner off Alexandria, Egypt.

Egyptian authorities allowed the four Palestinians, all avowed members of the Palestine Liberation Front, to fly to freedom after surrendering despite U.S. demands they be jailed for killing a wheelchair-bound American passenger, Leon Klinghoffer.

On July 10, a court in Genoa, Italy, convicted 11 men, including fugitive Palestinian leader Abul Abbas, for the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, but none was singled out for killing Klinghoffer.

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