32 years since Israel bombed Hammam Chott

On 1 October 2017, Tunisia commemorates the 32nd memorial of the bombing of Hammam Chott, a suburb of Tunis, the capital city, by the Israel’s air force in 1985. The strike killed 68 people and the injured  100 Palestinians and Tunisians.

At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, October 1, 1985, a squadron of Israeli air force combat aircrafts (estimated between six and eight aircrafts) launched a raid on Hammam Chott suburb.

There were several offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO): the office of President Yasser Arafat, his own house, the office of Force 17 of the Presidential Guard, the military administration that kept the archives of the Palestinian revolution fighters, the financial administration and some of Abu Ammar’s staff houses and the employees in the PLO institutions. All of these offices were demolished in less than 10 minutes.

The raids were intended to target the then Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, though he was not present at the time.

In his testimony on that period, Taher al-Sheikh, the head of the office of the Palestinian News & Info Agency, WAFA, in Tunisia, said that “The Israeli Air Force officers, led by Amos Lapidot and accompanied by Mossad agents led by Nahum Admoni, were preparing to open champagne bottles in Tel Aviv and drink toasts to celebrate their victory in the massacre, until they were disappointingly surprised by Arafat’s sudden appearance on TV channels, standing on the ashes of his destroyed house and threatening Israel with a harsh counterattack.

The occupation learned through its spies that the Palestinian leadership was about to host a large and important meeting in the security office in Hammam Chott at 9.30am on Tuesday, October 1, 1985. Therefore, the occupation prepared its forces to attack the meeting and to destroy what it could not break during the occupation and the siege of Beirut for 88 days in the summer of 1982.

The leadership invited its officers and leaders in Algeria, Tunisia and Yemen to join the meeting. On the meeting day, in the morning, Yasser Arafat was walking along the beach, and at 9:00 am his military office manager told him to postpone the meeting because a number of senior officers could not arrive to Tunisia because of flight bookings. Therefore, the meeting was postponed until the evening.

Middle East Monitor

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