Beirut Airport Raid

   On 28 December 1968, Israeli helicopter gunships raided the international airport in Beirut, Lebanon, destroying 13 or 14 commercial aircraft belonging to Lebanon's Middle East Airways. The raid was in retaliation for an attack the previous day on an El Al aircraft in Athens, Greece, by members of George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It was part of an Israeli strategy to pressure the Lebanese central government to apply sovereign authority over the border region with Israel and to prevent the Palestine Liberation Organization and other militant factions from using the region as a base for terrorist strikes against Israel and against Israeli and Jewish targets internationally. However, the Lebanese government was too weak, and the Israel Defense Forces ultimately had to take matters into its own hands, launching a series of small (and a few larger) initiatives to push the Palestinian groups out of firing range.
   See also Operation Litani; War in Lebanon (1982).

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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