Sunday, May 25, 2014

The “Massacre in Ma’alot”


A view of the water tower symbol of Ma'alot with the Netiv Meir school behind it in 1974
“In all the encounters I've seen for decades during my combat service in the IDF, this was the most shocking event I had ever experienced: to hear the gunfire and explosions, and in the background the screams, cries of distress, pain and helplessness of children. I took part in rescuing the wounded and the dead, and I was the first or second to arrive at the scene of the disaster after the initial team. I saw a sight that cannot be forgotten: dozens of shattered bodies of students with amputated limbs from the explosion of the grenades lying on the floor, screaming and begging, help us! ',' help us!''
These are the chilling words of  Moshe Givati, (Ret) Colonel and military historian, when he recalled the reality of that evening in the middle of May 1974 in Ma'alot.
The murder of the 11 Israeli Olympic athletes in  Munich on September 5, 1972 and the Massacre of Ma’alot on May 15, 1974, the 26th anniversary of Israeli independence, were two of the major hostage incidents in the world where a forced rescue ended in the cold-blooded murder of the civilian hostages by the remorseless Palestinian terrorists hostage takers.

The stories and events of these two failures in hostage rescue have become prime examples to many of the security forces of the western world for not only on what to do and what not to do in a hostage situation. Furthermore these sad incidents instigated not only for the need for improved methods /tactics but also the need for advanced uniforms, weapons and equipment to successfully counter terrorism as reflected in today's specialized counter-terrorism units.

The infamous terrorist attack that resulted in the “Massacre” in Ma'alot, Israel was perpetrated by three Arabs; two born within the "Green Line" in Israel and one in Beit Hanina a neighborhood North East Jerusalem, who joined the DemocraticFront for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) (Arabic: 'الجبهة الديموقراطية لتحرير فلسطين', transliterated Al-Jabha al-Dimuqratiya Li-Tahrir Filastin)

The three terrorist murderers were:


Ali Ahmad Hasan al-Atmah (Linou), was 27 years old and he was born in Haifa. He is remembered by all of the survivors as being particularly committed to the Palestinian cause as well as being vicious, unfeeling, cruel and harsh.
Muhammad Muslih Salim Dardour (Harbi), 20 years old, the youngest member of the group was born in Beit Hanina a neighborhood North East Jerusalem. According to the hostage survivors he was described as being shy, indifferent and apathetic. Some mistook these qualities to believe he was afraid.
Ziyad Abdar-Rahim Ka’ik (Ziyad) was 22 years old he had been born in Taibe, an Arab village located in the ‘Triangle’ and he spoke fluent Hebrew. He is described by the survivors as being the commander of the group. In his youth he had been involved with criminal activities and he had a police record as a juvenile delinquent and he had been placed in a institute for juvenile delinquents “Achvah” near Akko-Acre. According to the records of the Israeli Police upon his release he joined a criminal gang that specialized in burglaries. He also became a journeyman in laying tile floors for contractors in the area of Netanyah. In February of 1973 in crossed the border into Lebanon and joined the DFLP. 

The "Freedom Fighters Organization" 

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), had broken away from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine(PFLP) led by the Christian Arab leader Dr. George Habash, in 1969 over ideological and personal differences.The PDFLP Palestinian "Freedom Fighters" was led by Nayef Hawatmeh.  who was born in 1935 into a Christian family in Al-Salt, Jordan. Nayif Hawātmeh was highly regarded by the Soviets as a solid Marxist, without the middle-class orientation of ʿArafāt’s Fatah movement. Unlike other Palestinian factions that espoused international displays of violence, the PDFLP has generally focused its violent activities within Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

The major reason for the existence of the PLO  and it's associated movements was the tragedy of the refusal of the "Arabs of the Mandated Area" to accept the UN Partition plan (UNR181) in 1947. Their refusal and the Arab Leagues invasion led to the sub-sequential war for Israel's Independence.

Historical Background to the conflict

The Arabs of the Mandated Area, unlike the Zionists,  had a divided leadership and were incapable of establishing a country in the area designated to them. With this weakness in mind the members of the Arab League chosen that moment to divide the area between them by invading. The Arabs of the Mandated Area were called upon by the invading armies to flee for their lives as Arab radio stations broadcasted reports of "Massacres" by the Jews the most infamous being that of the action in Deir Yassin.

By the time of the Rhodes Armistice conference in 1949 the seven nation members of the Arab League countries realized that they had been resoundingly defeated by the new Jewish nation. In their utter embarrassment they attempted to distance themselves from their "Nachba - Catastrophic Defeat" by placing the now homeless "Arabs of the Mandated Area" into refugee camps. According to the Arabs the blame for the creation of the “Jewish State” was a United Nations – American and European creation. The Arabs refused responsibility for the refugee crisis they created and because of this a special refugee assistance program UNWRA was designed and created "Just" to care for them.

In squalid refugee camps spread throughout the region and in the Gaza Strip. "Arabs of the Mandated Area" have been languishing deprived of citizenship by their Arab brethren and forced to subside on handouts from UNWRA. No other refugee group on the planet has had a "special" plan just to aid them like that for the "Arabs of the Mandated Area" for nearly 70 years.
Even today the Palestinian Movements all base their existence on the fiction of the "Nachba - Catastrophic Defeat"  or the lack of victory in the destruction of the Jewish presence in "Palestine". It is this "Big Lie"of the "return to our lands"or as Plato stated "The Allegory of the Cave" that is still being taught in UNWRA schools until today.
The three Arabs who became the murderers of the children of Safed in Netiv Meir were born in "Occupied Palestine." Yet they were instilled with such passionate hatred that they choose to ignore their freedom offered in the Israeli society joined the terrorist organization to kill the "Occupiers". This virulent hatred continues unabated daily on the media of the "Palestinian Authority" until now.

The Story of Ma'alot

The untold, and under publicized story,that most people in the world are unaware of  is the story of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Few know that the original residents of Ma'alot and the parents of the children murdered, were also victims and refugees. They were sons and daughters of more than 900,000 Jews of Arab Lands that were summarily kicked out of their homes, were they resided for generations, deprived of their possessions and expelled in revenge for the "Loss of face" and embarrassment of the Arab League loss.

In direct contrast to the Arab refugees who have received billions in aid from the UN. The Jews of 22 Arab lands were absorbed into the tiny State Of Israel under extreme financial burden and lack of basic infrastructure. The only help that Israel received in it's early days was that of world Jewry who were still traumatized by the loss of nearly half of world Jewry by the Nazis. Yet despite all the difficulties and with no where to go. These Jewish refugees from Arab lands were resettled in Mabarrot aka “Development Towns” like Ma'alot as full citizens of the Jewish Homeland.


Ma'alot was originally established in 1957 as a Ma'abara (Hebrew: מעבר) transit camp or refugee absorption camp to expand the population of the country's peripheral areas and to ease development pressure on the country's crowded center. The Ma’bara was meant to provide accommodation for the large influx of Jewish refugees from Arab countries primarily Morocco but also from Tunisia and Egypt. The first 120 large families that arrived to live in the Ma'abara that hot July of 1957 lived under very harsh conditions. They were housed in tents or in temporary tin dwellings with many people sharing sanitation facilities.

A view of Ma'alot looking south 
In the beginning the entire area was lacking in places of employment other than those created by the state in development projects to create infrastructure. Jewish residents lived under the status of a workers camp to perform menial jobs in the area. The first places of employment were that with the reclaiming of the land through reforestation by the Keren Kayemet program and the construction and expansion of the road system.



The first actual “homes” were small Amidar Israeli Government housing apartments  built on Har HaRakafot (Cyclamen Hill), known in Arabic as Bab Al-Hauwa ("Gate of the Winds"),  Ma’alot was finally connected to the electricity grid on 29 October 1959. Maalot was later transformed into a “Development Town” town (Hebrew: עיירת פיתוח, Ayarat Pitu'ah) and merged with Tarshicha on May 16, 1963

In 1965 the first commercial center in Ma’alot was completed and there were 21 shops, a coffee shop, bank, grocery store and movie theater. Slowly but surely the Israeli Government and the Histadrudt Labor Union opened factories for employment in Ma'alot: TASS the Israeli Military Industries factory, GIBOR a textile undergarment factory and Telrad. There was a small private company MAGAT a manufacturer of stainless steel containers. All of this growth took place under the constant threat of death by “Falestinian” terrorism from Lebanon and the surrounding other Arab nations.

The Palestinian Murderous Rampage in Kiryat Shmona

The cold blooded murderous terrorist attack which took place on the 11th of April 1974 just one month prior to the devastating attack in Ma'alot, was the first of the new form of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel. In this attack on innocent civilian population terrorists infiltrated a township, that was located some distance from the border.
The PFLP-GC leadership had planned for a rampage of murder of innocent school children and they had not prepared themselves an escape route.
Their primary motive was to carry enough ammunition and explosives to murder a larger number of victims, without having to devote resources and time for get away. 

A gang of terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command  led by Ahmed Jibril were the ones who infiltrated into Kiryat Shmona and perpetuated the attack. Upon review of the terrorists involved only one could claim a "Palestinian heritage" two were Arabs from neighboring Arab League countries.
The terrorists involved in the attack were:
  • Motzir Mugrabi "Abu Haled" a 20 year old Palestinian born in the Yarmuk UNWRA refugee camp in Damascus, Syria.
  • Ahmed al-Shaek "Abu Shaker" a Syrian who had joined the PFLP-GC  in 1972
  • Yassin al-Muzani "Abu-Hadi" a 27 year old ex-Iraqi soldier who had joined the PFLP-GC in 1972.
The Terrorists group first entered the elementary school named after Janusz Korczak, but luckily it was empty due to the Passover holiday.
Frustrated by their faulty intelligence the terrorist group turned towards Block 13 on Yehuda Halevy Street. There they entered a four-story apartment block residence, broke into an apartment and murdered Esther Cohen (40) her son David (7) and her daughter Shula (14). They murdered Shaul Ben Eliahu Ramrejkar (64) and  Esther Vasnah (60)then they turned to the next door apartment block (No. 15).

The couple Miriam (29) and Yakov (30) Guetta who lived on the third floor, heard the shots and the Stern family's apartment on the first floor. Miriam and Jacob went down the stairs, and instead of escaping to the outside, turned to enter the apartment of the Stern family. Miriam was shot and killed instantly, and her husband was fatally wounded and later died. During the murderous encounter, the Stern family attempted to jumped out of the window but Anisa Stern (47) and her daughter Rachel (8) nut they too were cut down.

Meanwhile the Biton family, who lived on the fourth floor tried to escape with their children by climb from their to the balcony on the floor below. The children Avi(5) and Anat (2.5) and their father Shimon (30) were shot by two of the terrorists, who were still on the third floor and were murdered

Joseph Shitrit had gone to work at his workplace while his wife Fanny (30) and their four children Yochevet (11), Aharon (8) and  Motti (4) were at home. Daughter Iris Shitrit  (9), saw one of the terrorists enter the apartment and ran to her room. As she grabbed her little brother Moti (4) but her brother frightened by the shots eluded her, left the room and was shot to death. Iris was the only survivor of the family.

A border police force and a squad from the Druze IDF Unit were the first to respond and arrived on the scene. The police patrol encountered fire from terrorists. The Border Police had believed that the terrorists were in school, and attempted to enter under the cover of smoke grenades.
The terrorists who were in the nearby apartment building opened fire at them and hit several police officers. The Israeli forces realizing their error now returned fire to the apartment building where the terrorist were now holed up.
An IDF infantry reserve unit under the command of Col. David Cohen arrived on the scene at 08:15. The unit immediately conducted an exchange of fire with the terrorist where a soldier Sargent Mordecai Grady (20) and a Bedouin member of the Border patrol Suweil Avlack (20) from Tarschicha was also killed in the attack. The terrorists barricaded themselves in an apartment on the top floor of the #15 apartment building and ignored the calls to surrender. During an exchange of fire an explosive knapsack carried by the terrorists - blew up killing them all.

Ten adults and eight children were viciously murdered in cold blood. Here are the names of the civilians:
  • Fanny Shitrit (30) her children, Yochevet (11), Aharon (8) and  Motti (4)
  • Esther Cohen (40) her son David (7) and her daughter Shula (14)
  • Mirim and Yakov Guerta a young couple aged thirty
  • Shimon Biton (30) his son Avi (5) and his daughter Anat (2.5)
  • Anisa Stern (47) and her daughter Rachel (8)
  • Shaul Ben Eliahu Ramrejkar (64)
  • Esther Vasnah (60)
  • A soldier Mordecai Grady (20) 
  • A Bedouin member of the Border patrol Suweil Avlack (20) from Tarschicha was also killed in the attack.
Due to the horrific atrocity in Kiryat Shmona the Israeli Air Force was called in to retaliate against terrorist camps in Lebanon. The retaliatory air strikes where carried out against PLO command centers and training camps located in Palestinian refugee camps. Due to the calculated placement of the terrorist facilities in close proximity to refugee housing by the PLO there were regrettable civilian casualties.

In the aftermath of this activity there had been a continuous high state of alert in the communities’ and agricultural settlements along the length of the Lebanese border.

Infiltration into Israel from "Fatachland" in Southern Lebanon


In the aftermath of the recent activity by Palestinian terrorist groups there had been a continuous high state of alert in the communities’ and agricultural settlements along the length of the Lebanese border. There were frequent Border Patrols and there was an air of tense anticipation.

The three members of the PDFLP terrorist group infiltrated into Israel from south of the Lebanese village of Ramish into Israel near Moshav Zarit through the Nachal Matat nature reserve on Sunday night May 12th,1974 around 22:00 (10:00PM). 

They crossed through the barbed wire and the border fence and the special dust covered road, "HaShvil HaTistush", next to the fence with relative ease. The dust road was part of the method of tracking used by the Bedouin trackers to determine not only the direction a terrorist would take but by the footprint glean further information. The terrorist cell had swept behind them in an attempt to obliterate their tracks. At that time there was no real border obstacle to speak of other than the fence and dust road. The installation of a special touch sensor system along the fence had not been completed due to budget issues. 

As can be seen from the anniversary cover of the Palestinian Authority magazine “Glorifying” the mission on the left, they were dressed in "civilian clothing"- blue jeans and they wore different colored shirts.They all wore identical Soviet Made ammunition vests and they were loaded down with; ammunition clips for their AK-47 Kalashnikov machine guns, hand grenades and they had blocks of Czechoslovakian made KGB/STASSI issue plastic explosives.


Shortly before midnight an Army border patrol unit discovered the remains of partial footprints of the terrorist group on the border road. However the new inexperienced Army Bedouin tracker failed to find the continuation of the trail it was mistakenly reported to their superiors that the footprints belonged to smugglers. Since the area where the infiltration was made is well known as a major trafficking site for drug smugglers it was believed by the tracker to have merely been an exchange and because of this terrible mistake no alarm or alert was made.

The three members of the group spent the rest of the night and day of Monday May 13th  in their concealed location in the thick foliage of the border area resting and preparing. One of the members of the terrorists gang Ziyad Abdar-Rahim Ka’ik (Ziyad) was well acquainted with the terrain and the backwoods paths since he had lived in the Israeli Arab village of Taibe and had even worked for a period of time in Safed as a waiter and cleaner at a restaurant in Safed.
Rested and now confident in their success in crossing into "enemy territory" the terrorists continued their trek through the fields and orchards of the Druze village of Hurfiesh towards small narrow bridge built during the British Mandate period over the wadi of the stream near at the Elkoush junction.

The Fateful Fieldtrip Sets Out. Monday morning the 13th of May 1974


Two days before Israel's twenty-sixth Independence Day, a group of over 102 fifteen to seventeen year old students, ninth - eleventh grade, from a religious regional high school in Safed received permission from the Ministry of Education, the IDF and the Safed Police District to set out on a field trip of the Galilee.
Along with the students there were:
  • teachers Tzion Cohen, Dov Silberman and HaRav Yoseph Amar
  • The ‘armed escort’ were two ex-students of the school who were home on leave from the IDF with Uzi sub machine guns Meir Amar and Gabi Alfasi
  • two female soldiers 1st Lieutenant Narkis Mordecai (Stern) and Ricki Chani (Maimon) were the female first-aid medics,
  • a 21 year old literature teacher Edna Strolovitch and the Shop (Crafts) teacher Pinkas Vaknine,
  • the driver of the "Tiyulit" truck from the "HaMeitiyel" company Micha Gantz,
  • and Yoni Amrousi who was a tour guide from the Para-military youth organization ‘Gadna’ and who was also the person in charge of the field trip.

Despite the warnings that the National Headquarters of the Israeli Police had received of the possibility of further terrorist groups to enter Israel, Yona Amrousi the leader from "Gadna" and the teachers of the school group were given permission to set out on the field trip.

The planned itinerary for the group originally had been to go to the Negev. After the trip was underway, and upon hearing of an infiltration of terrorists in the area, the commander of the trip Yona Amrousi and one of the teachers, Yitzhak Vaknine, contacted the police in Acre to find out if there were any changes made in the existing instructions. While Vaknine stayed at the station, Amrousi continued driving with the Tiyulit driven by Micah Gantz towards the bridge near Hurfeish. At the bridge he met soldiers who ordered him not to enter Wadi Koren because there was a operational sweep to locate the terrorists underway. Their footprints had been discovered in the vicinity of Zarit on the morning of May 13th.

Amrousi returned to the group encamped near the Hurfeish bridge. In light of the information received from the soldiers and Vaknine he went to use a phone in Moshav Elkoush to call the "Gadna" Youth Corps Commissioner in Haifa, to verify whether to continue the field-trip. The Commissioner unaware of developments in the area allowed for the continuation of the field-trip.

The Galilee District Police Department merely repeated to Vaknine that approvals for the field-trip, still stood according to the notifications that had been received by the Police communications office within the Akko District Precinct by telegraph. The instructions that Vakinne had, had been issued between ten days to 21 days before the Field-trip had begun.

However since the infiltration of the terrorists had just occurred Vakinne was requested to change the accommodation of the students from the encampment in the field near the old Hurfeish bridge outside to the school building of "Netiv Meir" in the center of Ma'alot believing it to be safer.

Tzippi Maimon (Boukris) later recalled;
"Around 14:00 we started our itinerary," she recalls. "I think it was in Wadi Koren Western Galilee. Overhead flew a lot of helicopters and valley were a lot of soldiers. In the valley we found empty food cans with Arabic labels. We asked our escorts, what is this?? '. They told us that there was a training exercise underway and that the empty cans may have belonged to shepherds from Tarshiha. During the trip, the officers who were present asked us: 'how do you feel? Do you want to continue to go or not?', and so we realized there was tension, but we did not know that there was a terrorist group in the area. "

The leaders of the group decided to take the students to Wadi Koren-Achziv and to walk towards Montefort near the Christian Arab village of Mailiyah. The one condition given them by the Police authorities in Akko was that they could not sleep outside in nature they would have to spend the night in a ‘secure location’. The arrangements for them to spend the night in Ma’alot at the Netiv Meir Grammar School facility on the floor were made at the last minute with the school principal Shlomo Marati and they arrived at the school at 17:00 (5PM) that evening.

After a vigorous day of hiking in the Wadi’s near Ma’alot the students and their escorts arranged to stay in the Netiv Meir Religious Elementary School. The students were tired and hungry when they arrived at the school building. They held evening prayers and ate their evening meal in the area in front of the school.
As on all religious school field trips, the escorts prepared separate sleeping areas for the male student from the female students. The escorts slept on the second floor landing space and confined the boys to the corridor while the girls had been placed in the third floor corridor since the doors to the classrooms had been locked

The field trip leader Yoni Amrossi was wary of the wild behavior of the students and instructed the escorts to place their weapons in the cabin of the “tyiulite”- the Volvo chassied field trip truck. (Seen in the front of the school above) He recounted later that he was fearful of an ‘accident’ occurring. One of the teachers, Pinchas Vaknin, who did not wish to be in the building and to sleep on the concrete floor decided to sleep in the cabin of the truck. By 11PM almost all of the students were asleep.

Before Midnight May 13th to 14th: Blind Hatred


Around 10:15 PM, May 13th, 1974 eight Christian women workers from the Kiryat Ata clothing factory located in the northern suburb of Haifa, by the same name, had finished their shift and clocked out. They boarded the "Hasaah" the transportation home provided by the Ata Garment concern. The Peugeot tender was used to transport them, back to their home in the Northern Arab Christian village of Fassuta.

At the same time that the women had left the factory, the three Moslems who were members of a Communistic "Secular" Arab terrorists movement were resting and waiting not far from the Druze village of Hurfeish near the small stone bridge over Nachal Achziv in the thick brush.

Around 10:45PM the  Peugeot 404 tender was slowly making its way up the steep hill towards Moshav Zuriel from the direction of Ma’alot. Inside the back of the tender sat six of the Christian Arab women;  Fahimah Jiris 17, Sameeya Matar 22, Suaed Matar 16, Marta Huri 42,  Violet Dakwar 23 and Hasibah Shalala 27. Suad Jiris 20 and Aebleh Kasis 17 sat next to the Bedouin driver, Fain Saad 24 years old from the village of Arab Al Aramshe, in front. (see attached photo)

Just as the terrorists were walking along the winding and deserted narrow Safed to Nahariyah road (Road #89), from the Elkoush junction bridge toward Moshav Zuriel. They saw the beams of the headlights of the approaching tender illuminating the winding road in front of it. Seeing the headlights of the vehicle the commander of the terrorist group Ziyad-Rahim stood by the side of the road and signaled to vehicle that he wanted a hitchhike. The Bedouin driver, Fain Saad, recalled in his testimony to the police:
"On the way from Moshav Zuriel in the distance my headlights illuminated someone up ahead standing by the side of the road like someone requesting a ride. As I approached I saw another figure some 10 meters up ahead with a weapon come out of the darkness and take a stance. Suddenly the two opened fire."
Ziyad-Rahim saw that the tender was not stopping and he jumped out from the shadows of the side of the road way into the light of the tender and opened up with a murderous volley. The other two terrorists Linou and Harbi standing in the shadows along the side of the road immediately joined in spraying the tender with AK-47 machine gun fire. Saad drove the damaged vehicle downhill and around a bend in the road to the bridge over the Achziv "Nachal"-stream.

 In recalling what occurred that night, Violet Dakwar related how Hasibah  Shalala and her had been sitting in the back of the tender. The women  where tired from their days work and had been quietly conversing between  themselves on trivial matters on the long ride home. Suddenly the vehicle  sped up to escape the terrorists and the women screamed with fright. Violet  recalled how Hasibah had been sitting in the crucial seat on the right hand  side next to the rear door of the "tender" and how she absorbed the brunt of  Linou's deadly fire as the rounds ripped through the vehicle. Violet Dakwar  stated that Hasibah Shalala had been riddled, "by at least 10 AK-47 rounds  in the stomach". She herself was severely wounded by four rounds.
"I will never forget my friend Haviv and how in her last moments she asked for water and died with her head resting on my wounded arm."
Those six women who had sat in the rear of the tender were severely wounded and according to the forensic report the vehicle was it by over 170 AK-47 rounds 

The bullets from the merciless fire of the three terrorist’s AK-47's ripped into the women and caused severe damage to the tender and its motor.The driver was also wounded but he was able to put the car into neutral and glide some distance downhill away from the terrorists.
The wounded women in the tender cried out in pain, whimpered and moaned in agony. They suffered greatly from their wounds. They were so severely injured from the gunfire that they were unable to jump out of the now disabled vehicle. They cried out in pain and prayed that they would receive help.

The terrorists evidently taken aback by the encounter fled the scene along the side of the road to the nearby foliage of the Wadi towards Ma’alot.

The driver though wounded in his thigh, head and hand was able to reach Moshav Elkoush, a Communal farm settlement of Kurdish Jews refugees from Iraq. Ironically the the Police Commander Yair Yardeni ,of the local Police Station near Tarshiha in Moshav Meona, resided there on the other side of the hill and he had not heard the gunfire.
The head of Elkoush security Musa Abu Ayoun was startled by the ferocity of the sound of the gunfire on the nearby road. Several members of the Moshav who had been in their homes also heard the gunfire and grabbed their weapons. As prearranged in drills they manned the positions around the Moshav.
Abu Ayoun who had been alerted by the Army of the presence of terrorists in the area had not undressed and had been resting in his home in the Head of security station when he heard the gunfire. Rushing to the main gate he encountered the driver Fain Sa'ad. He placed him in his jeep and rushed him to the infirmary next to his Security "Headquarters" where he had a phone and sent a runner to wake the Commander of the Meona Police Station and to have him come to his base.
In the meantime because of the old district system he was connected to an alert phone line to the police at the old Sasa Police station who then alerted Meona of the incident by phone at around 11:45PM Tuesday May 14th. While he was in the infirmary next door  to the head of Elkosh Security office. Sa'ad was bandaged by the Moshav nurse and the Commander of the Meona Police Station began to question him to elicit more details of the incident before being evacuated to the government Hospital in Zefat.
The head of security on Moshav Zuriel and members of the Moshav were also alerted by the gunfire and they too rushed to man the perimeter of the Moshav. The Head of Moshav security immediately called the Meona police station. Menachem Peasch who was the “desk sergeant” manned the desk at the station. When he was notified by the Head of Security of Moshav Elkosh  that there had been an incident he alerted the Border Police contingent in their squad room and called the District Headquarters in Akko. District Commander Yakov Granot alerted his shift commander to notify the station in Nahariyah and he called his head of detectives Shlomo Abutbol to accompany him to the scene of the incident. 

Alerted by the gunfire and the driver Fain Saad of the tender, Israeli Border Police, the IDF units in the area and Police, began to search the wooded area near the scene. They Army Bedouin trackers who were not as experienced as the Border Police tracker had believed that the terrorists had accomplished their mission and were now fleeing the scene back into Lebanon.
At the same time the Israel air force dropped flares to illuminate the area in the direction of the “escape route” towards Lebanon. It only became apparent later that the Army border patrol’s report about smugglers was woefully wrong and that the footprints discovered late on the night of the 12th of May were those of a terrorist team. The Army who had previous knowledge of the possibility of a terrorist attack mistakenly believed that the act that they were informed of centered on the attack on the tender. Therefore all efforts to locate the terrorists where now directed towards the groups supposed retreat route to Lebanon near Moshav Elkoush and the vicinity of Fasuta.

The older much more experienced Bedouin tracker of the Border Patrol outnumbered by his colleagues in the IDF adamantly pointed to the direction of Ma'alot. The Western Galilee District Police commander Yakov Granot listened and relied on the assumption of his Bedouin Tracker and ordered Yakov El Kobi of the TAAS - Israeli Military Factory Border Police contingent to be on alert. He and his Chief of Detectives Shlomo Boutbol went to the Offices of the TAAS complex in Ma'alot.

Shimon Elmakius, one of the original Moroccan refugees that had settled in Ma'alot with his family, was on duty in the Army reserves Civil Defense unit in the Town's Emergency Headquarters located in the basement of a building adjacent to the Magen David Adom emergency ambulance station.
Elmakius later related to me, that since the attack on Kiryat Shmona on the 11th of April 1974, there had been tension along the border area and some 18 local residents had been called up as guards from the Civil Defense unit.
Around 11PM those who had been on duty and the two drivers of the ambulances were released to go home to sleep. Only he and Eliahu Ben Naim remained on duty. With the attack on the tender of the Arab workers from Kiryat Ata, the police in the Sasa station had called and notified him of terrorists in the area. He was requested to awaken the ambulance drivers Chaim Lev and Shalom "Mardoushe" Amar and to send them immediately to the scene to treat and evacuate the wounded.

Believing that the terrorists had completed their attack and  now were fleeing back to Lebanon, the civil defense forces in Ma’alot were told to stand down because of this false assumption. Additionally Elmakius was told NOT to alert the commander Peter Silberstein and the executive officer Mordecai Wazanna. He was also cautioned not to awaken all the members of the Civil Defense unit. 
When the ambulance drivers returned around 2AM, Elamakius called the local Civil Defense unit commander and informed him of the situation and that terrorists were in the area and that the Unit should be awoken and called out to patrol and check, however according to him the commander refused to call out the unit.

Unknown to Elmakius was the fact that the Army had previously contacted the Civil Guard commander Peter Silberstein and had told him that the incident with the "ATA" textile workers was not connected to Ma'alot and that that all the efforts of the security forces were being focused on the supposed route of retreat to Lebanon.

Due to the darkness and the steep terrain of the nearby Wadi the Bedouin trackers failed to pick up the track of the terrorists. Officers in charge told all forces to wait until sunrise before continuing the search. It is also believed that the terrorists utilized the time before the arrival of Israeli forces to run along the paved roadway so as not to leave a trail.

Tuesday, May 14th.1974

Emboldened by their successful attack on the Zionist vehicle, the terrorist leader Ziyad-Rahim decided to cut across and through the fields and orchards of the now aware and guarded Moshav Zuriel to the East, thereby adverting being spotted. As they walked they could clearly see the small sleepy township of Ma’alot with its street lights outlined on the nearby ridge in the distance

After resting in the foliage and darkness, offered by a small bridge that crossed a stream bed at the foot of the bottom of the Wadi. The terrorists noticed the lack of traffic on “Kvish” Road 89 - the Safed to Nahariyah road. Gathering their equipment the terrorists climbed the rocky slope and entered the peaceful and unguarded ‘Development Town’ of Ma’alot at approximately 02:30 AM from the East.
Coming up from the darkness of the Wadi they observed several apartment blocks and a lone street light above a small parking area that bordered a bomb shelter. As they crouched momentarily and observed the nearby structures they decided to enter the center stairwell of a nearby three story apartment block.
Fortuna Cohen the mother of the family,who was in her seventh month of pregnancy, had awoken and gone to the kitchen to warm a bottle of milk to feed her 16-month-old son Yitzhak. The meager light from the second floor apartment shone out like a beacon. Seeing the light the terrorists walked quickly uphill in the shadow of the lone streetlight and went into the darkness offered by the ground floor middle entrance of the low rent subsidized “Amidar” apartment building number 137.
As they approached the building Ziyad-Rahim told Harbi to guard the entrance of the stairwell as he and Linou slowly climbed the steps to the second floor. Ziyad-Rahim stationed Linou by the Cohens door. He than proceeded up the stairwell to the upper floor to begin rounding up hostages from the upper floor. Ziyad-Rahim began by knocking on the door of the third floor apartments first. Not receiving a response Ziyad-Rahim became frustrated and angry and shot out the lock of one of the apartments and found the apartment empty. The neighbor by the family name Nachmias, who though he was partially blind, managed to climb from his porch to the adjacent apartment thereby escaping death.
On the second floor the father Yoseph-‘Jojo’ heard the noise and opened the door. Linou opened fire with his AK-47 automatic rifle Ziyad-Rahim hearing the shots ran down the stairwell. Together they murdered the father Yoseph. The mother Fortuna, who was in the adjacent bedroom with the children placed their deaf-dumb 18-month-old son Yitzhak under the bed.
Ziyad-Rahim lounged into the apartment and kicked the bedroom door open as he sprayed the children's bedroom with AK-47 automatic fire murdering the eight month pregnant Fortuna and their five year old son Moshe Eli in cold blood and severely wounded the five year old daughter Biya in the abdomen. Both Biya and her orphan brother Yitzhak survived.

The sounds of the gunfire in the middle of the night were muffled and the neighbors that did hear had no means by which to notify the security forces because at that time there weren't telephones in homes of the local citizenry.

After the murder of the Cohen family, the terrorists then ran from the apartment building and up the road, in the direction of the Netiv Meir Elementary school where the students were sleeping.

On their way to the school the terrorists encountered an elderly man Yakov Kadosh a sanitation worker for the township whose job was to place the garbage pails near the sidewalk for collection. Approaching Kadosh Linou greeted him in Hebrew by saying “Boker Tov” (Good Morning”) and Kadosh replied “Boker Tov.” Since the terrorists were "Israeli-Arabs" they knew Hebrew and asked for directions to the school. Kadosh pointed out the direction. Linou asked him;“Are there Children at the school?” “Yes” replied Kadosh. One of the other terrorists asked him “Are you a Jew or an Arab?” When Kadosh replied “Jew” he brutally beat him and then shot him. Luckily according to Kadosh he fell on the side of the street and was only wounded but he feigned death. This gunfire did wake several of the neighbors. The terrorists now wary of the noise made by their gunfire hurriedly carried on leaving him for dead.

The terrorists ran up a short pathway crossed a narrow road and then ran up the driveway towards the tour trucks that were parked across the courtyard towards the Netiv Meir Grammar school, where the tour group was spending the night.

The Netiv Meir Elementary school is a three story concrete building. It was built with a ground floor entrance and an open space of pillars. The school faces with windows to the north and south. To the East and West sides there are no windows. At the time of the incident the building was only three years old and there where apartment buildings under construction nearby. The entrance at that time faced to the east.

One of the neighbors who had been awoken by the gunfire, was a young man who had recently finished his military service, Shaul Mereck. Shaul ran to the Home Guard office at the Magen David Adom first aid and ambulance service to notify authorities and the leader of the “Home Guard”.Shimon Elmakius knew that the gunfire was coming from near his home so he ran to check if all was well at his home.

On approaching the school the terrorists searched the "Tiyulit" truck and found the teacher Pinchas Vaknin who had been asleep inside the cabin and forced him by gunpoint to escort them to the school entrance. Vaknin knocked on the glass door entrance to the school.
The teacher Zion Cohen related;
“It was close to 4AM and I heard someone knocking on the door saying, “Open up, open up!” The door was made from glass that was not transparent and I asked; “Who’s there?” and the teacher Pinchas Vaknin replied. “It’s me I’m outside. Open the door”. 
When the terrorists entered they surprised the sleeping students and escorts. As they entered and climbed the steps to the second floor Cohen cried out “mechablim ( terrorists), anyone who can run for your lives!”
The students who awoke from all the commotion were dumbfounded during the first few seconds. Many of them thought it was just a gag until they heard the first automatic volley of shoots fired by the terrorists.
The driver of the tour truck Micah Gantz was the first to grasp the seriousness of the situation. He was one of those who had been located near the end of the first floor hallway near a locked classroom. Fully understanding the seriousness of the position they were now in he pried open the door of the classroom, which opened towards the hallway and not inward. As he pulled the door towards him, a group made up of students and the escorts; Yoni Amrossi, Zion Cohen, Rabbi Yoseph Amar, Dov Silverman, the two soldiers "escorts" Meir Amar and Gabi Alfasi, ran to the open door into the corner classroom. Gantz and the others ran to the window and unhesitatingly jumped the four meters down to the ground floor area below. Only Rabbi Yoseph Amar was injured when they jumped from the window. 17 other students were able to flee the building by leaping from the windows  and in so doing saved their lives.

Yoni Amrossi, the teacher in charge of the tour group, was one of the first to leap out of the window. He later related in his own words "to notify the authorities and to grab his weapon from the truck". 

The terrorists then quickly began to gather the remaining 85 children and four adults; Narkis Mordecai and Ricki Hanay 20 army first-aid medics, a 21 year old literature teacher Edna Strolovitch and Rabbi Pinchas Vaknin,  who had not managed to flee into a second floor end of the hallway classroom.
As the terrorist rounded up the students they kicked and hit the children and forced them under gun point and shots to sit on the floor. The terrorist then began to place explosive charges, booby traps and fuse lines throughout the entire school building and the classroom. The terrorists had planned to activate the explosives by direct current from the school electricity connection. A plunger to effect the explosion was on the teachers table in front of the classroom with Ziyad's ammo vest which was laid out on the desk.  Linou and Harbi stayed with the students and a Ziyad-Rahim went to the third floor landing where he could observe the access to the front of the building.

It was now 04:30 AM Wednesday May 15th.

The terrorists released one of the hostages,a young female Army officer. Ziyad-Rahim tells her in Hebrew; "Take these handouts and give them to Mordecai Cohen." (The Labor Union representative in Maalot)   Narkis, Rachel Lagziel, and Gerbi Halfon departed the school with their demands, the release of 20 terrorists to be flown to Damascus by 18:00 hours today, their arrival being confirmed by a coded message to be delivered to them by either the French or Romanian Ambassador. If the coded message is not delivered by the French or Romanian ambassador by the 18:00 deadline they would blow up the school building with all inside.

Once the Israeli government was informed of the situation, the terrorist began negotiations for the release of the hostages. They also demanded that the French and Romanian ambassadors come to secure the deal. Officials complied and two of  the terrorists held in prison were even brought to the school and shown to them that the Israeli Government was seriously dealing with their demands for release.

One of the students Yeshai Maimon volunteered himself to stand up to the terrorists since all but one of the teachers and adult escorts had fled. The terrorists took the megaphone left by the head teacher and gave it to Maimon. They then presented him with pre-prepared texts with their demands.

Sarah Madar the heroine

The Medical officer Narkis Mordechai who accompanied the trip later recounted that Sarah Madar 15 years old, who was among the victims murdered by the terrorists, was the real heroine of the terrorist attack in Ma'alot.
"She was really was wonderful. She really was the heroine of the day. She bolstered confidence and gave encouragement to all of them. It was too bad that the hand of the murderers was also upon her,"
When the terrorist broke into the school and began rounding up the students Sarah Madar immediately stood up; 
"Do not be afraid," "No one will dare to touch us, we must find courage and show heroism."
Madar encouraged her fellow students to bravely face the Palestinian terrorists. She remained true to her friends by speaking with them in the face of death. It turns out that one of the terrorists realized immediately to see it fit to maintain contact with students through her. He gave her duplicate copies of the fliers (with their demands) and asked her to read them to the students, to reassure them that they weren't there to murder them but to negotiate for the release of prisoners.
Throughout the day, Sarah encouraged her friends and told them stories, to induce them to cheer up, despite their desperate situation. She even managed to squeeze smiles frozen faces of terrorists.
However, as the "Deadline" approached tension among the hostages increased. Many of the students burst into tears and began to mutter to themselves, "Hear O Israel". Sarah then made a single request from the terrorist who stood near her by asking if the terrorist would allow the students. If indeed they were condemned to die, if they could move together to comfort one another by hugging each other in the final moments left before the end of the ultimatum.
She wanted the terrorist to allow her fellow students, if indeed they were condemned to die, to be allowed to embrace each other in the final moments left before the end of the ultimatum. 
"Friends, we remain loyal to each other to the final moment together, and if we are to die, we will die together." 
These were her last words to her friends. "I do not know where a young girl like her took such courage and boldness," said Narkis. "The terrorist had told me that he had promised her that no matter what he would not hurt Sarah.”

But it seems that fate ordained that Sarah would not survive while her friends were murdered around her. Indeed, sadly Sarah Madar was among the first to be murdered by the terrorists in the inferno of the final moments.


Timeline:

At 05:00 AM Israeli airforce helicopters fly in members of the Elite Sayert Matcal commando unit who land at the local football field. The unit quickly sets up in positions around the school. police and Civil Guard units cordon off the area and local residents are asked to go to their bomb shelters.

At 06:00 AM The terrorists repeat their demands as they snipe at residents who out of curiosity attempt to approach the building.

07:00 AM the chief of staff Mordecai Gur arrives at the scene.

07:30 AM Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan and Commander of the Northern Command Raphael "Rafual" Eitan arrive and go to the local Council and announce to Council Leader Eli Ben-Yakov; "We are in charge now!"  "You take care of the residents and we will take care of the terrorists" boasts Dayan.

08:00 More shots are fired by Linou at onlookers. Army personnel are told to withhold fire.

09:00 -12:00 Tenseness in the air. Soldiers take up firing positions in two nearby apartment blocks near the school and inside the gym near the school snipers take position. News correspondents and camera men who attempt to get close are fired upon by Linou.

The parents of the children begin to arrive from Safed. There are loud arguments mothers crying. All want to see their children released unharmed. They are gathered together not far away. Parents demand to know what is being done.

MK Amnon Linn, the mayor of Safed Aharon Nachmias and members of the City council offer themselves as hostages in place of the children to Dayan but he refuses to discuss it.

13:00 Two students a boy and girl who "were not feeling well" are released with a list reaffirming the demands of the terrorist. They report that the school has been wired with explosives and that the terrorists have been treating them well so far.

At 13:10, Sylvian Zerach, a 27 year old soldier from Akko who was married to a resident of Ma’a lot and the father of a one month old baby girl. Stood with several other news photographers and correspondents to observe the activities at the school. They were standing near the base of the concrete 50 meter high water tower that symbolizes Ma’alot. The tower is some 200 yards from the third floor window where the third terrorist Linou was watching. As he stood near the base of the tower the terrorist fired a burst of gunfire at the news people. A freak round caught Zerach in the neck severing his carotid artery. He was immediately rushed away to the nearby Army aid station that had been set up in the city square. An army doctor and medics worked frantically to save his life but to no avail.

All day long negotiations with the terrorists were carried out between the terrorists by megaphone and the Israeli loudspeakers. The terrorists presented their demands for the release of 23 Arab and three other convicted terrorists from Israeli prisons. Among them was Kozo Okamoto - a Japanese national involved in the 1972 Lod Airport Massacre,  or they would kill the students by the 6 PM  deadline. The terrorists refused to communicate with anyone not even the French or Romanian Ambassadors without first receiving the code word from Damascus signifying the release of their imprisoned terrorist colleagues. The terrorists said that if the ambassadors approached them without saying the promised code word they, the ambassadors would be murdered.


Shoshi Dahn, Shula Rubin were asleep when the teacher Pinchas Vaknin came and whispered that there were terrorist in the building. The girls who had been tired from all the days activities rolled over thinking it was a bad joke when suddenly one of the terrorists came into the room and kicked them. Pinchas Blachson, from Hatzor HaGalil whose father had demanded of him not to go, was also rounded up with all the others into the fateful classroom. Linou addressed the students in Hebrew telling them that there was nothing to worry about as long as the Israeli government meets their demands. In the meantime the children watched in horror as the terrorists set up blocks of plastic explosives rigged to go off and they warned them if there would be any trouble they would set off the explosives to destroy us and the building. As the sat there waiting the terrorist ate their food and drank their water. The captives were not allowed to leave the classroom and were denied to use the bathroom. The terrorists refused to allow them water and the young girls urinated on themselves form all the fear. Blachson relates how the boys urinated into cups and later due to thirst drank it. He recalled how he had a small prayer book of Tehillim (Psalms) that he took out to read and passed it to others so that they too could pray, Yona Sabag z"l, who was killed in the assault was sitting next to Pinchas whispered to him; “You will survive and get out of here alive. I doubt that I will.”  He repeated this over and over during the time there in the room. Yona removed the watch from his wrist and passed it to me stating;”Here take this and pass it to my family so that one of my nephews that will be born will be called in my name.”

One of the long lasting horrors and examples of bravery comes from the 15 year old Ilana Ne’eman who wrote on a simple note book page these last words to her family:



Dear Mom and Dad, hello!

The time is now 11:00 am. I do not know how many hours I have left to live, so I’m writing to you.

I’m sorry, Mom, that I didn’t listen to you and I went on the trip. Yeah, I know you didn’t force me to stay, but you were concerned, and preferred that I not go. But I went. Because I knew my job.

I wanted to say thank you for the education you gave me and the amazing years I had- all thanks to you!

Now I’m 15 and a half and if I have to die, I will die quietly with dignity and faith, yes faith, that you gave to me. You told me that life without faith is always trivial and much more painful, and now in these difficult times I have a lot of faith. And faith that you are right.

Life gives a person a lot, and though I didn’t have a choice in almost anything, not when and where to be born, and who to be born to, but I had a good life… I was a religious kid, in Israel, with wonderful parents – with you.

Large hours – I haven’t had, that I did not merit to get and probably will not merit, but thanks to you I passed the test of honor at small and dark hours, regular daily hours.

Mom, do not cry a lot when I die. When Rivka has her baby, name it after me- Ilan or Ilana, and raise him like me to be strong, and make sure he knows what his goal in life and why he was born.

I know that you’ve had a hard life before and after I was born, and when I die it will be even more difficult, but always remember that hardships will bring hours of joy and satisfaction.

I am not crying, my eyes are dry, it won’t hurt when I die, I’m not sorry, and when I say “Shema Israel” at my last hour, I will think about you.

I had to make the trip, we should not stop living life- the danger lies everywhere and if we have been decreed in heaven, it will always happen. If we hide in shelters, our danger is greater. It is better to live moral life and die for Kidush Hashem!

This letter will be my last world. Please show all members of the family this letter send them with great love regards from me. To all my friends and neighbors send them success! This is my last chance for in an hour I will leave you.

Goodbye Forever.

Lovingly, your daughter - Ilana

Negotiations


Golda Meir and the existing government, which was in the throws of dissolution in the aftermath of the disastrous Yom Kippur War, declared that they would not negotiate with terrorists. Golda Meir pushed for negotiations and there was strong disagreement between Chief of Staff Gur and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, only a month after Dayan requested Golda Meir’s government to appoint Gur as chief of staff. Moshe Dayan forcibly pushed for a rescue by force by an elite parachute unit, ‘The Sayeret Matkal’ to attack immediately. Gur was afraid that the action would be disastrous for the dozens of hostages and asked that the negotiations be continued. He refused to carry out the minister’s order and demanded that it first be discussed and ratified by the cabinet. Negotiations carried on for some 14 hours.

The actions of the terrorists in Kiryat Shomna weighed heavily on the cabinets decision. Moshe Dayan was adamant in his desire to eliminate the terrorists even though the it was reportedly rumored that as the deadline approached  Nayef Hawatmeh had told the Romanians that he would settle for the three members in the school to be flown to Cyprus. The excuse was that there was to plane to fly them out on but no one thought to ask  US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for the use of his plane which was at Ben Gurion Airport.
The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, met in an emergency session, and by 4:00 p.m. a decision was reached to negotiate, but the DFLP members refused a request for more time.
The Israeli government then voted and it was agreed that the rescue attempt would begin at 17:30 (5:30PM) Motta Gur later recalled that Moshe Dayan had ordered him to begin final preparations at 16:45 (4:45PM) and that the assault would jump off at 17:25 (5:25PM).
Only two members of the Israeli government Dr Yoseph Burg and Moshe Kol had voted against military action and pushed for further negotiations.

Almost is a big word.
  
At 17:25 PM, commander of the the elite Sayeret Matkal Special Forces group was given the ‘green light’ from Defense Minister Moshe Dayan to storm the building. The break in force was divided into three units; two to break in from the entrance while a third was to have climbed a ladder and entered from the northern window side.
The teams moved into position from the blind side to the East from the frames of some apartment buildings that were under construction
The operation was to have been coordinated with simultaneous sniper fire on the three terrorists. At exactly 17:30 the first team entered the building through the main entrance on the first floor, which was not locked but instead was blocked by tables and chairs. From the north side a member of the assault team opened a gate way to the central fuse box and waited for the assult to begin before switching the main fuse box off to prevent the terrorists from setting of the explosives.
At the moment the command to shoot was given a chair placed on a desk blocking the front entrance fell to the floor scaring the targets and the snipers missed. The first three man team led by Yuval Galili, from Kibbutz Gevah, was hit by gunfire as they tried to go up the u-shaped stairwell to the second floor. Trying to prevent the death of his team members and in order to extract them a captain Zvika mistakenly threw a phosphorus grenade into the second floor hallway. The smoke from the explosion blinded them all.
The second team which was led by Amiran Levine team had been trained to take out Linou who had appeared at the third floor window, where he had shot the volley that had killed Zerach.
When they broke in and after Galili’s team was ‘knocked’ out. Levine led his attack group up the stairwell but because of the thick smoke they ran to the empty second floor and had to waste precious moments rushing to the first floor hallway where the children were being held in the classroom.
Haribi who had stayed with the children the entire time could not speak Hebrew so the students spoke to him in Arabic.
When the Israeli force broke in the abject fear of reprisal caused Haribi to grab Gabi Amsalem and hold him by gunpoint next to him on the floor as a human shield.
Ziyad who had heard the commotion of the break in had exited to the hallway to give covering fire for Linou who now had retreated towards the classroom filled with the hostages. As the two terrorists retreated towards the room. Ziyad was shot and killed by Levine’s number 2 just as he approached the threshold of the classroom where the hostages were being kept.
Linou however ran into the classroom and calmly grabbed ammo clips that he had been placed on the teacher’s desk. He loaded his weapon and sprayed the panicked and hysterical children with round after round, back and forth among the terrified and packed in students in front of him. Occasionally he grabbed a grenade and tossed it out the window.
As he stood there he was shot several times by the members of the assault force. Yet he continued to stand firing into the children. It was only when a burst of fire broke his left wrist did he pick up two grenades and threw them into a group of young girls huddled together on the floor three feet in front of him murdering them.
As Linou fired into the massed crowd of the panicked students several children leapt from the windows 10 feet down to the ground.

As one of the survivors Shlomo Aburamd later related, the team that was to have scaled the ladder and confronted Linou failed to do so because of the amount of panicked children crashing down on them from above. They were also prevented from ascending into the classroom by Lini who was throwing grenades out of the window the entire time.


Once the assault force was able to kill Linou the members of the assault team entered the room and discovered Haribi behind Amsalem and neutralized him.

In the end the assault team had managed to kill all the terrorists, but at the terrible cost of twenty-two dead schoolchildren and more that fifty wounded. With the conclusion of the fighting at 17:45 the tuff combat veteran elite soldiers were stunned and sickened by the sight of the carnage and the large pool of blood from the mangled bodies of the teenaged children on the floor. Immediately the combat engineers leaped in to dismantle the explosive charges placed by the terrorists. The line of stretcher bearers and medics rushed in to begin removing the wounded to the mobile hospital and evacuation center that had been established two blocks away. The Combat engineers worked to remove the unexploded grenades and booby traps set up by the terrorists. Parents and relatives of the children had attempted to rush into the building to find out what had happened to their children. The police and the soldiers stationed around the building strained to prevent a further tragedy due o the explosive charges that needed to be deactivated.

The wounded and the dead were quickly evacuated to the local hospitals. The wounded by helicopter and the dead by ambulance.

 The center picture of Galil Maimon carrying his sister Tzippi became the symbolic picture of the terrorist outrage.

Light Among the Darkness 

Moshe Asulin whose two sons had been in the school searched for them. His son Yakov who had been wounded in the leg was found in Rambam Hospital in Haifa. Moshe frantically searched for his other son Chaim in the Rambam Hospital.

Suddenly a Rabbi serving in the Army Rabbinute (the Chaplaincy Corp) approached him took him aside and inform him that his son Chaim had been murdered in the attack and that his body was in the Morgue at the Government Hospital in Nahariyah and that they requested that he go and confirm the identity of his son's body. Moshe was shattered and requested that the Rabbi ask his brother Yisrael , who worked in the civilian rabbinate in Safed as an undertaker to go and identify his nephew and to prepare his body for the funeral. He also asked him to begin all the secondary preparations and arrangement for the funeral. Death notices were prepared and Yisrael set out to the Morgue at Nahariyah Government Hospital.
Upon his arrival, Yisrael entered the sad room with the bodies of the murdered children who lay upon bloody stretchers covered by bloody army blankets.
Yisrael began to do the ritual cleansing of the body for the burial when he noticed that Chaim's wrist was still warm. He noticed that to his surprise there was a faint pulse. Yisrael immediately began screaming for help; "The boy is still alive!" His uncle screamed over and over. Medical personnel nearby thought that the uncle was struck by remorse and hysteria at the sight of his dead nephew. They grabbed Yisrael and attempted to calm him but he continued screaming for help; "The boy is still alive!"

A doctor who had been working nearby entered the morgue reluctantly because he too was skeptical of Yisrael's call. Holding Chaim's undamaged wrist he discovered that there was a feint pulse! Immediately Chaim was wheeled into the emergency unit and doctors worked frantically on his wounds from shrapnel and the ten bullet wounds!
At the end of the medical efforts Chaim Asulin remained in a coma for four years.
Chaim later recalled; "I suddenly remember awaking after four years at the age of nineteen on my birthday of all things."
Chaim Asulin survived his wounds and though he lost a hand he served in the IDF and is married with two son and a daughter.

In the end 22 unarmed teenagers were murdered in cold blood simply because they were Jews. The traumatic effect of the cost of the operation can be still felt in the communities of the children around and in Safed. Today there is a small memorial center dedicated to the memory of the murdered children located in the same classroom in the Netiv Meir School where the massacre occurred.

The year following the Terrorist Massacre in Ma’alot in 1975, the B'nei Akiva established a Yeshiva in the neighborhood dedicated in the name of the Cohen family.





The head of the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine that claimed responsibility for the attack, Nayef Hawatmeh, said that the attack had been aimed against the Middle East peace mission of Henry Kissinger, who had been in the Middle East about two months earlier. Hawatmeh said that Kissinger was suggesting a settlement that would mean the surrender of the Palestinian people.The attack was meant to show Kissinger that the Palestinians reject any proposal that would hurt the Palestinian cause and would accept only the creation of a Palestinian entityHawatmeh also said the attack was intended to warn the US against turning the West Bank of Jordan over to King Hussein.

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir had told reporters in Jerusalem that her government had been talking to the hostage-takers but had not been given enough time to complete preparations to free prisoners.Mrs. Meir would later relate to the group believed to be behind the attack as "an organization of blood and murder".
Israel's Minister for Information, Shimon Peres, later related that the decision to storm the school had been taken at the last minute because the terrorists had screamed through the megaphone that they wanted to hear the password from their headquarters by the 18:00 deadline. It was feared the terrorists would blow the school up with the children inside and therefore the decision to attack was given.

The Mishmar Ezrachi or Civil Guard

The traumatic effect of the event on the Israeli public was a major contributor to the establishment of the Mishmar Ezrachi or Civil Guard volunteer police unit, on July 10, 1974. The Civil Guard started as a group of civilians who volunteered to do night patrols in their communities, which were exposed to numerous Palestinian terror infiltration attempts in the aftermath of the massacre in Ma’alot.

Irony

In the collective memory of the terrible incidents it is ironic that in their “Lust” for blood the three Palestinian "Arab-Israeli" terrorists who committed the atrocity in Ma'alot, began their rampage by attacking a van carrying Arab workers, killing Hasibah Shala 27 years old a Christian Arab Israeli women from Fassuta and severely wounding seven who were on their way home from work in a Jewish (Histadrudt) Garment Factory in Kiryat Ata and wounded the Arab Moslem driver. The story of the attack on the tender has been ignored and forgotten.
There was never a memorial erected and the survivors were all but forgotten by the Arab community.

Recently a documentary was made of the women and the pain they went through and they were invited to take part in the ceremonies at the school in Ma'alot. I personally am attempting to gain backing from the members of the Arab community for the construction of a simple memorial to be erected at the spot where the tender was attacked and Hasibah Shalala murdered. The Arab community in Israeli society needs to recognize that by harboring and ignoring blind and indiscriminate hatred they are defeating their own calls for equality within Israel. It is important to note that there have been other members of the Village who were murdered in suicide bombing attacks and they too are not recognized.

Epilogue 

On May 20th 1974, a commission of inquiry was appointed to investigate the events in Ma'alot, headed by Reserve Major General Amos Horev, appointed as it's head. Commission members examined the incident from several perspectives and issued a report listing a long series of mistakes. According to the post mortem report of the committee after the horrific incident it was found that the established official directives of the national headquarters of the Israeli Police procedures for regulating school Field-trips and security for cross district movements by groups of students on field-trips was grossly mishandled.
"The police procedures at that time did not require one Police District to submit information about trips approved in another district where the permission for the Field-trip was issued." That notifications were not properly handled and that the procedures for issuing cross district field-trips were non-existent. "This created a situation in which the Northern District had no comprehensive information on school field-trips and Gadna Youth Corps trips made in their area of responsibility".

Furthermore in the Horev Committee report it was found that the commander of the Meona police station, who was directly responsible for the security of Ma'alot, was new to his position. He had assumed command less than six months before and did not even have a phone in his place of residence. That the Station Commander had not been informed of three separate school field-trip groups on annual trips who spent the night in a 1 kilometer radius of one another within Ma'alot.

The commander of the police station in Meona had not been fully informed of the high level of tension due to security considerations in his sector. That none of the Higher Echelons of the Israeli National Police were willing to accept responsibility for notifying the commander of the actuality of the dire situation.

The principal of "Netiv Meir" Shalom Marati later stated that he had received instruction on the same day of the attack from the Galilee District police headquarters that due to the tense security situation the school must provide accommodation for the Gadna group from Safad.

"On the night of the 14th to the 15th of May 1974 before leaving the station for the night the Commander had not been fully briefed by the District Headquarters and the Army.He was totally unaware of the dire situation and had merely placed a usual shift of a desk sargent and a sentry on duty at the station only. In the Horev committee report it stated that the Police Station commander, had been on leave on May 14. Towards the evening, he returned to the station and called the Commander of Haga-the Civil defense for Ma'alot - to be on increased vigilance, given the news they had in common with IDF activity in the area. After that, he went home to Elkosh, some seven to eight kilometers from Meona. It should be noted that although the Police Commander had settled in Elkosh before the Yom Kippur War, Bezeq had yet to install a phone in his home. Leaving him with no means to be contacted in an emergency."

Another glaring dereliction was the leaving the security for the town in the hands of Haga. Haga was a Civil Defense group made up of mostly elderly men in poor physical condition. Civil Defense personnel at that time were responsible for patrols every few hours around the town to watch for suspicious packages or objects and maintaining, a "presence" near schools during the school year. They would stop their work at night, except for the commander and a on duty soldier at the command post. The murder of 18 Israelis from a previous infiltration of terrorists from Lebanon to Kiryat Shmona a month earlier brought the civil defense commander to order his men to start maintaining and patrols starting at 4:00. According to the report, until May 12 the Haga Unit in Ma'alot had been reinforced by squad of regular soldiers, but this unit had been reassigned on the morning and had not been replaced by another unit. The reason for this was that the reinforcements were directed to the border area due to the alarm of possible intrusions near Moshav Zarit. Because of this there was no squad of regular soldiers based in Ma'alot between the 14th and 15th of May, during which the attack took place, there was no guard duty in the town itself.

On the 40th anniversary of the Massacre Col. (res) Moshe Givati, who was among the injured rescue force from school stated: "Seven long hours went by since the first incident with the women workers. How could it be that no security force was sent immediately to guard the school children and secure the school? Where was the army? Where were the police? Where in the hell where their teachers assigned to escort them?"

The hideous atrocity of the cold blooded massacre of innocent civilians, mainly children, in Ma'alot is the epitome of “Falestinian” hatred towards the rebirth of the Jewish homeland. It’s outcome, though terrible, drew worldwide attention to the need for change in Development Towns. This need for change was felt in also in the relationship between the Israeli Government and the inhabitants of "Development Towns" who were primarily Sephardic Jews. The eventual backlash ended in the overwhelming victory of the Likud in the elections of May 1977.

On 21 November 1995, Maalot - Tarshicha achieved the status of a city after the city doubled its population with the arrival and absorption of many immigrants from the former Soviet Union during the early 1990s.

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