IN MEMORIAM: LIBYAN AIRLINES FLIGHT 114
10:30 a.m. on 21 February 1973, Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 took off
its regularly-scheduled flight from Tripoli to Cairo.
The plane, a Boeing 727, was being piloted by a French crew under a
contractual arrangement between Air France and the Libyan national airline.
After a brief stop at the city of Benghazi in eastern Libya, Flight 114 continued
en route to Cairo with 113 persons on board.
As the airliner flew over northern Egypt on its approach to Cairo, it suddenly
encountered a blinding sandstorm which forced the crew to switch to instrument
control because the geographic features which ordinarily served as landmarks
could not be discerned in the swirling tempest. A short time later, the pilot
discovered that he had made a navigational error because of a compass
malfunction: the plane had missed an air traffic beacon, and he could not
ascertain its current location. He radioed the Cairo air control tower with an
urgent plea for assistance. The Egyptian flight controllers radioed back, giving
him the information necessary to correct the plane's course and warning that it
appeared that the plane might have strayed over the Sinai peninsula, which at
that time was occupied by Israeli forces.
The pilot immediately corrected the course, and LN 114 was heading back
Cairo when the crew noticed two military jets approaching. The crew members
expressed relief, for they believed that the jets were Egyptian fighters sent to
escort their plane to safety at the Cairo airport. Such, however, proved not to be
the case: the two jets were in fact Israeli Phantoms, and, before the pilot of LN
114 had been able to make out the "Star of David" markings on their wings,
they had directed three bursts of cannon fire into the Boeing 727, blasting it
from the sky.
Flight 114 smashed into the Sinai desert only one minute's flying time
Egyptian-controlled territory, killing 106 men, women and children aboard.
At first, Israel attempted to deny its culpability for the tragedy. However,
February when the Boeing's "black box" which had recorded the pilot's
conversations with the Cairo control tower was recovered, such denial was no
longer possible. The Israeli government then did a volte-face and revealed that
LN 114 had been shot down with the personal authorization of Dado Elazar, the
Israeli Chief of Staff. Commenting on the decision to blow up the civilian
airliner, Golda Meir, then Prime Minister of Israel, showered Elazar with praise,
and exulted, "I want to tell you that I don't just appreciate you, I admire you!"
The United Nations failed to take any action against Israel for its destruction
the Libyan passenger plane, and when the 30 member nations of the
International Civil Aviation Organization voted to censure Israel for the attack,
the U.S. abstained.
Would Israel have extradited
the two pilots for trial in Libya ? Of course not - you see, there is a
difference between certain countries among the members of the UN. Some
have to follow international law - some don't.
Following is a list of the innocent passengers who were killed in the Israeli terrorist attack on that civilian plane:
and the crew: