The Savoy Hotel Bombing (Photo: Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

On March 5, 1975, at around 11:00 PM, a boat full of terrorists landed on the south coast of Tel Aviv at the Herbert Samuel wharf. Eight terrorists from the Fatah organization, the militant faction of the modern-day Palestinian Authority, got off the boat. First, they tried in vain to break into the "Cinema 1" movie theater. Following this, the terrorists turned to Geula Street where they took over the Savoy Hotel and took its guests, hostage. An Israel Defense Forces soldier who was on leave tried to prevent this, but the terrorists killed him.

The attack was planned by Abu Jihad as an attack to gain a bargaining chip for the release of Palestinian terrorists who were imprisoned in Israel as revenge for Operation Aviv Naorim, in which three senior PLO leaders were killed.

According to the original plan, the operation was supposed to take place in Nahariya, about two months earlier, but the squads that tried to carry it out failed to locate the city from the sea and the mission was canceled. After that, the terrorists planned to take over a youth club in the Menshieh neighborhood in Tel Aviv and the Opera House. The backup plan was to take over some inhabited buildings. The terrorists were instructed to request the release of prisoners and fly them to Syria. In the event of an Israeli refusal, the terrorists were instructed to kill the hostages and commit suicide.

The terrorists barricaded themselves on the top floor of the hotel, gathered the hostages in one room near them, and secured the room. At approximately 1:00 a.m., a force from the General Staff patrol arrived in the hotel area. The terrorists threatened to kill the hostages if Israel did not release 20 terrorists, including Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, and provide a plane for this purpose within four hours. The negotiations with the security forces were conducted by the terrorists through Kochva Levi, one of the female hostages who acted as a mediator because she knew Arabic.

At approximately 05:15, four squads from a patrol force of the General Staff broke into the hotel, under the command of Amiram Levin, Nehemia Tamri, and Amar Bar-Lev. In the break-in, the terrorists activated the explosive in the room where the hostages were located. The force of the explosion destroyed part of the floor When the rescuers took over, seven of the terrorists were killed and one terrorist was captured. Five hostages were rescued and eight were killed along with three IDF soldiers in the explosion.

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