The man who shot Netanyahu laughs it off

Marco Ashkenazi recounts how he accidentally shot Netanyahu during a dramatic airplane hijacking rescue.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

He may be laughing it off now, but 48 years ago it was a tense life-and-death struggle with Palestinian terrorists when Marco Ashkenazi shot his fellow IDF commando, the man who is now prime minister of Israel.

In an interview Wednesday with FM103 in Tel Aviv, Ashkenazi chuckled as he recalled the dramatic rescue of the 97 passengers and crew on a Sabena Airlines plane that was commandeered by terrorists belonging to the Palestinian Black September Organization. A few months later that same terror group would massacre 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team in Munich, Germany.

“I am in fact the person who struggled with the terrorist with a gun, a bullet was fired, [that] entered her chest and from her to Bibi,” Ashkenazi recalled.

The .22 caliber bullet hit Netanyahu in the bicep, but Netanyahu did not react and only later was evacuated to the runway below the plane for treatment, Ashkenazi said.

Netanyahu and Ashkenazi were both in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit that had been rushed to the airport after the terrorists forced the plane to land in Israel and threatened to blow it up, demanding the release of jailed terrorists. The commander of the operation was Ehud Barak, who also went on to become prime minister of Israel.

Two of the terrorists and one Israeli passenger were killed in the rescue operation as the commandos, dressed as aircraft technicians, stormed the plane. The terrorist shot by Ashkenazi, Theresa Halsa, was later jailed for 220 years, but released in a 1983 prisoner exchange.

“And afterwards for all these years when we would meet, he [Netanyahu] would claim that he was looking for me to get even and I’m running away from him,” Ashkenazi said laughing.

Following the rescue, a reception was held for the Sayeret Matkal commandos, with Netanyahu being photographed shaking the hand of then President Zalman Shazar, with Netanyahu’s wounded arm in a sling.

At the ceremony in 2012 marking the 40th anniversary of the rescue, Netanyahu recounted the incident, describing how he grabbed one of the female terrorists by the hair, only to have her wig come off in his hand.

Netanyahu quickly grabbed her real hair and demanded to know where the explosives were that the terrorists were thought to have on the plane.

“And I see Marco Ashkenazi come running towards me saying ‘Bibi – I’ll take care of her’ and he has a cocked gun and I say ‘Marco, no’ as he hits her and the bullet stitched me,” Netanyahu recalled.