Many of the Fatah delegates meeting in Bethlehem have backgrounds that include serious terrorist crimes. Among them is Theresa Hollasai, an unrepentant airplane hijacker, who spoke to the Israeli daily Maariv on Monday.
Hollasai used the interview to demand concessions from Israel and to issue threats. “If Israel does not clearly accept the 'two state' solution, the armed struggle will resume,” she said.
Hollasai and three other terrorists hijacked Sabena Flight 572, from Vienna to Tel Aviv, in 1972. The group belonged to the Black September terrorist organization, a group most known for the slaughter of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic games.
The hijackers landed the plane in Tel Aviv and threatened to blow it up, along with every passenger aboard, if 315 terrorists were not released. While negotiating with the terrorists, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan planned and ordered a rescue operation. Elite IDF soldiers charged the plane, killing two terrorists and arresting the others.
Hollasai was sentenced to life in prison, but was released in 1983 in a prisoner exchange deal.
She described herself as “very surprised” to have received Israel's permission to attend the Bethlehem conference. Like many terrorists convicted for serious security crimes, she had been barred from Judea and Samaria. “I was very surprised that Israel allowed me to come – I hadn't even asked to participate. But I said, 'sure, let's go',” she explained.
She expressed hope that Israel would also allow her to visit Akko, the Israeli city in which she lived until carrying out the 1972 attack.
Unlike other terrorists allowed to return to Judea and Samaria, among them Coastal Road Massacre killer Khaled Isba, Hollasai did not express interest in remaining in the region. “My life is in Jordan,” she said.
The former hijacker expressed a pragmatic approach to terrorism shared by many Fatah members. “This isn't about regret,” she said, when asked if she was sorry for the hijacking. “It's about need. At that time, the operation was necessary... Today things look different.”