1968 Israeli raid on Lebanon

The 1968 Israeli raid on Lebanon, code-named Operation Gift (Hebrew: מבצע תשורה, mivtza t'shura), was an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Special Forces operation at the Beirut International Airport in the evening of December 28, 1968. The operation was in response to the attack on the Israeli Airliner El Al Flight 253 two days earlier by the Lebanon-based Palestinian militant organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

1968 Israeli raid on Lebanon
Part of Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon
Planned byIsrael Defense Forces
ObjectiveDestroy Middle East Airlines passenger planes on Beirut International Airport
DateDecember 28, 1968
Executed bySayeret Matkal

The commandos from the Israeli army's elite Sayeret Matkal destroyed 12 passenger airplanes[note 1] belonging to Middle East Airlines (MEA) and Lebanese International Airways (LIA) and two cargo planes belonging to Trans Mediterranean Airways (TMA).[1][2]

There were no casualties reported in the raid.[3]


Of the 14 aircraft destroyed, 8 (1 Vickers VC-10 (on lease from Ghana Airways), 1 Boeing 707-320C, 2 Caravelle VIN, 3 Comet 4C and 1 Vickers Viscount) belonged to MEA, which was 30% owned by Air France, 5% by Lebanese individuals and 65% by the Intra Investment Company. Intra was an inter-governmental corporation constituted by the Kuwaiti, Qatari, Lebanese and American governments. The US was represented by the Commodity Credit Corporation, which was owed money by Intra Bank, the predecessor of Intra Company, for wheat sales.

Lebanese International Airways owned 4 of the destroyed aircraft (2 Douglas DC-7 and 2 Convair 990 Coronado) which were 58% American owned.

Trans-Mediterranean Airways lost 2 planes (1 Douglas DC-4 and 1 Douglas DC-6) owned by private Lebanese individuals.

The total value of the planes was estimated to be $43.8 million, of which British insurers initially agreed to pay $18 million, excluding all policies that did not cover acts of war.[4]


The attack draw a sharp rebuke from the US, which stated that nothing suggested that the Lebanese authorities had anything to do with the El Al Flight 253 attack.[5]


  1. ^ references differ; less reliable reports quote a total of 13 aircraft


  1. ^ Time (July 13, 2006). "The Risks of Israel's Two-Front War". Retrieved May 30, 2008.
  2. ^ Annual summary 1968/3, Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved November 9, 2015
  3. ^ Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (August 13, 2000). "THE WAR OF ATTRITION AND THE CEASE FIRE - INTRODUCTION". Retrieved May 30, 2008.
  4. ^ John Norton Morton (Editor) (1974) The Arab Israeli Conflict. Volume II. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-05648-X. p.221, quoting The New York Times 5 January 1969, section 4, p.1
  5. ^ Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel, Washington, December 29, 1968: Subject: Israeli Attack on Khaldeh Airport.

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