Harman Patil (Editor)

1973 Israeli raid on Lebanon

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Dates  9 Apr 1973 – 10 Apr 1973
1973 Israeli raid on Lebanon specialopsyolasitecomresourcesOperationSpring
2 killed  4–100 killed, including three of the highest-level PLO leaders.
Result  IDF special forces achieved their objective
Similar  1968 Israeli raid on Leban, Operation Wooden Leg, 1978 South Lebanon conflict, Palestinian insurgency in South, Operation Summer Rains

The 1973 Israeli raid on Lebanon (known as Operation Spring of Youth, part of Operation Wrath of God) took place on the night of April 9 and early morning of April 10, 1973, when Israel Defense Forces special forces units attacked several Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) targets in Beirut and Sidon, Lebanon.


The operation is generally considered to be part of the retaliation for the Munich massacre at the Summer Olympics in 1972.

The Israeli troops arrived at the Lebanese beaches on speedboats launched from missile boats offshore. Mossad agents awaited the forces on the beaches with cars rented the previous day, and then drove them to their targets and later back to the beaches for extraction.

During the operation, three of the highest-level PLO leaders, surprised at home, were killed, along with other PLO members. Several Lebanese security people and civilian neighbors were also killed. Two Israeli soldiers were killed.

1973 israeli raid on lebanon


In February 1973, Ehud Barak, the then commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, obtained photographs and precise information on the whereabouts of three senior PLO leaders:

  • Muhammad Youssef al-Najjar (Abu Youssef) – an operations leader in Black September, the group responsible for the 1972 Munich massacre. He was also a PLO veteran, previously head of the Lebanese Fatah branches, head of Fatah internal intelligence organization. His latest duties were head of the PLO's political department and one of Yasser Arafat's deputies (third in line of Fatah's leadership).
  • Kamal Adwan – a PLO chief of operations, responsible for armed attacks against Israeli targets.
  • Kamal Nasser – PLO spokesman and member of the PLO Executive Committee.
  • The men lived in a pair of seven-story buildings in the fashionable neighborhood of Verdun in West Beirut. These buildings were residential housing for both British and Italian families along with Arab families. One building housed Al-Najjar, and a building across the street housed Adwan and Nasser.

    Barak and his team immediately began planning an operation to kill them. The final plan was to land operatives from navy ships on the Lebanese coast who would infiltrate into Lebanon disguised as tourists. Some of the commandos were to be disguised as women (Barak was disguised as a brunette woman). Before the mission, the forces trained using similar apartments in northern Tel Aviv. They also practiced cross-dressing and walking around disguised as lovers.

    The operation

    On April 9, 1973, Israeli Navy missile boats departed from Haifa naval base, carrying the commandos and Zodiac speedboats on board. When the missile boats reached the shores of Beirut, the Zodiacs were lowered into the water. To avoid being heard, they turned the motors off when they were a few hundred meters from land and rowed the rest of the way in. The commandos came ashore where Mossad agents were waiting for them with three cars. The agents drove them to their targets.

    Three Sayeret Matkal commando teams entered the buildings and planted explosive fuses at the apartment doors of their targets, while a backup team led by Barak remained outside and stood guard to repel PLO reinforcements or Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) Gendarmerie units. When the fuses exploded, the commandos stormed the apartments, gunned down the three targets, and seized whatever documents they could find. Kamal Nasser, a Christian, was according to Palestinian reports, shot in front of his family, with his bullet wounds tracing the sign of the cross. Al-Najjar's wife was killed during the melee, as was an elderly Italian woman responding to the commotion. At the same time, the backup team engaged in a firefight with a few dozen Lebanese ISF gendarmes and PLO reinforcements. Two Lebanese policemen were killed. The responding forces were beaten back, and Mossad cars were used to extract the commandos. While driving to the beach, they encountered a Lebanese Army armoured personnel carrier (APC) as it scanned the shore. They were not confronted and continued on to the beach, where the commandos and drivers abandoned the cars and returned to the missile boats in Zodiacs.

    At the same time, 14 Israeli commandos, mainly Sayeret Tzanhanim paratroopers, raided a multi-story building that housed militants of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The team was disguised as civilians and led by Amnon Lipkin-Shahak. The Israeli team met strong resistance early on from nearly 100 militants guarding it, and engaged in a close-quarters battle. Teams of PFLP gunmen on the building's upper floors repeatedly attempted to take the elevator to the ground floor and join the battle, but each team was wiped out by commandos waiting near the doors. The team managed to place a large explosive charge inside the building and detonate it, causing part of the building to collapse. Lipkin-Shahak then requested an air evacuation. The commandos were extracted by Israeli Air Force helicopters. Two Israeli soldiers and dozens of PFLP fighters were killed during the fighting.

    Two secondary forces attacked the Fatah headquarters for Gaza operations and a Fatah workshop in south Beirut. A third force of Shayetet 13 naval commandos landed in north Beirut and destroyed a small Fatah explosives workshop, while another paratroop unit raided and destroyed the PLO's main garage, located just south of Sidon.

    Popular culture

  • Operation Spring of Youth was featured in the 2005 Steven Spielberg film Munich.
  • The Israeli children's book The Time Tunnel – Operation Spring of Youth (2005) by Galila Ron-Feder Amit, number 32 in the Time Tunnel series, is based on this operation.
  • References

    1973 Israeli raid on Lebanon Wikipedia