BEIRUT: A spokesman for the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine said here today [July 24] that the Israeli El Al Airlines Boeing-707 hijacked and forced to land in Algiers yesterday was “a war prize” and would not be returned. The Israeli Press, meanwhile, reported today that the Tel Aviv Government was under pressure to send an ultimatum to Algeria for restitution of the jetliner and the Israelis aboard the plane.

The Front spokesman added that the 11 crew members and the 12 Israeli passengers now being held in Algiers would be retained as hostages for the release of “23 Palestinian commandos at present being held in Israeli prisons”.

The spokesman told AFP: “The Arabs will never give up the El Al aircraft which was captured by our commandos.”

He dismissed reports that Algeria would act on requests from UN Secretary-General U. Thant and a number of international organisations, and agree to return the plane to Israel.

In Cairo, UAR and Palestinian sources said today the El Al Boeing-707 was hijacked because four top Israeli officers were expected to be on board.

The four officers reportedly were returning home after winding up a number of arms-purchase contracts in the United States. Members of the Palestinian organisation had watched their every move during the trip.

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2018