(MUST READ) R.I.P. Reginald Levy, Dead at 88; Hero Helped Israeli Commandos in 1972 Hijacking

Reginald Levy at end of hijacking ordeal
Reginald Levy, who as captain of a hijacked Belgian airliner in 1972 was hailed as a hero for enabling Israeli commandos to storm the plane and rescue all 100 passengers and crew members, died Sunday at a hospital near his home in Dover, England. He was 88.

The cause was a heart attack, his daughter Linda Lipschitz said.

Sabena Flight 571 from Brussels to Tel Aviv was 20 minutes out of Vienna on May 8, 1972, when four Arabs waving pistols rushed the cockpit. “As you can see,” Captain Levy calmly told the 90 passengers, “we have friends aboard.”

The “friends” were members of Black September, a terrorist organization that grew out of the Palestinian defeat in the 1970 Jordanian civil war and was responsible for the killing of 11 members of the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics four months after the hijacking.

The hijackers — two men and two women — ordered Captain Levy to land at Lydda Airport (later Ben-Gurion International Airport), where they threatened to blow up the plane unless 317 Palestinian guerrillas were released from Israeli prisons.

Within an hour of the radio message from Captain Levy reporting the hijacking, Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Dayan, was at the airport to deal with the crisis. After dark, Israeli saboteurs crept under the parked plane, deflated the tires and disconnected hydraulic equipment.

At the hijackers’ request, International Red Cross teams were summoned to carry messages between the plane and Mr. Dayan. After presenting their demands, the hijackers were alarmed to discover that they could not take off again. Captain Levy started a conversation to calm them down, and kept on chatting through the night. “I talked about everything under the sun,” he said later, “from navigation to sex.”

The next morning, to demonstrate their intentions, the hijackers sent Captain Levy to the terminal with a sample of the explosives they had on board. He told the Israelis much more, describing the hijackers, their positions and the black bags in which they were carrying explosives. He also told them, significantly, that there were no seats blocking the emergency doors.

Mr. Dayan promised to repair the plane and bring the Palestinian prisoners to the airport. Bogus prisoners were shown to the hijackers from a distance, and another plane was taken out to a runway, supposedly to fly them to Cairo.

Twenty-one hours after Captain Levy’s plane had been hijacked, two trucks carrying 18 men in the white overalls of mechanics drove up to the jetliner. They milled about the plane, supposedly checking the tires and other equipment. Suddenly they tore open the emergency exits above the wings and opened fire inside the cabin.

The fusillade from the men in overalls — in reality members of the elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal — ended within 90 seconds. The commandos were led by Ehud Barak, now Israel’s defense minister, and among them was Benjamin Netanyahu, now the prime minister.

The two male hijackers, who had returned fire, were killed. Another hijacker, a Jordanian woman, was not injured. The fourth, also a woman, was seriously wounded, as were several passengers. Tearful passengers and crew members slid off the wings and were bused to a terminal into the arms of ecstatic relatives.

Several days later, Prime Minister Golda Meir held a dinner for those involved in the rescue. She kissed Captain Levy and cried, “We love you.”

To criticism that the operation had endangered innocent people, she said, “When blackmail like this succeeds, it only leads to more blackmail.”

Reginald Levy was born in Blackpool, England, on May 8, 1922, the son of Cyril and Ann Constant Levy. The hijacking took place on his 50th birthday. His wife, Dora Shawcross Levy, was on board; they were planning to celebrate in Tel Aviv.

Besides his daughter Linda, Captain Levy is survived by another daughter, Susan Schiphorst; two sons, Peter and Anthony; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Captain Levy joined the Royal Air Force when he was 18, flew bombing missions over Germany and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1944. After the war, he took part in the Berlin airlift and, in 1952, joined Sabena. He retired in 1982.

In 2007, Eliezer Sacks, one of the Israeli commandos, arrived at the offices of The Jerusalem Post and handed Ms. Lipschitz — then an editorial assistant at the paper — the blue Sabena captain’s cap that her father had left on the plane. He gave her a letter he had written to Captain Levy.

“I want to apologize for the long time — 35 years — that I forgot to give your hat back,” it said. “I hope the hat will find its way back to your head.” It did. -NY TIMES



Copyright © Jewish Internet Defense Force
All Rights Reserved

LEGAL:
The views expressed on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of the JIDF. The content is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company or individual. This site's intention is to do no harm, to not injure others, defame, or libel. All data and information provided on this site is for informational, educational, and/or entertainment purposes only. The Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF) makes no representations as to accuracy, currentness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use, or access to this site. We are not responsible for translation or interpretation of content. We are not responsible for defamatory statements bound to government, religious or other laws from the reader’s country of origin. All information is provided on an as-is basis with no warranties, and confers no rights. We are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, opinions expressed, privacy policies, products or services or for any damages or losses, directly or indirectly, caused or alleged to have been caused as a result of your use or reliance on such information on the Jewish Internet Defense Force site. This site includes links to other sites and blogs operated by third parties. These links are provided as a convenience to you and as an additional avenue of access to the information contained therein. We have not reviewed all of the information on other sites and are not responsible for the content of any other sites or any products or services that may be offered through other sites. The inclusion of these links in no way indicates their endorsement, support or approval of the contents of this site or the policies or positions of the JIDF. We have the right to edit, remove or deny access to content that is determined to be, in our sole discretion, unacceptable. These Terms and Conditions of Use apply to you when you view, access or otherwise use this blog and the Website. The JIDF is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Related Posts with Thumbnails