BEIRUT (AP) — An growing older Japanese militant who spent greater than a decade in an Israeli jail for his half in a lethal assault on Tel Aviv’s airport confirmed up in Beirut on Monday at an occasion commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the assault.
Kozo Okamoto, 74, served 12 years in an Israeli lockup for a May 30, 1972 assault on the worldwide airport outdoors Tel Aviv that was regarded as carried out by members of the Japanese Red Army guerrilla group. Twenty-six individuals had been killed, together with Christian pilgrims.
Okamoto was freed in 1985 in a prisoner trade between Israel and Palestinian guerrillas and has since gained political asylum in Lebanon the place he has been residing quietly for many years.
The ceremony at a Beirut cemetery the place many Palestinian militants are buried was organized by a radical Palestinian faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It was attended by a number of dozen individuals and officers from Lebanese and Palestinian factions together with Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The members gathered round a memorial for 4 pro-Palestinian Japanese nationals.
The 1972 assault on the airport was suspected to be a joint operation between the PFLP and the Japanese Red Army.
Donning a Palestinian flag round his neck and the slogan of the PFLP, Okamoto seemed frail as he walked towards the grave with the assistance of a number of males. He didn’t converse throughout his 30-minute go to to the cemetery and typically smiled and waved.
Okamoto’s uncommon public look got here two days after Fusako Shigenobu, who co-founded the Japanese Red Army, was launched from jail in Japan after serving a 20-year sentence and apologizing for hurting harmless individuals.
The Japanese Red Army, a violent ultra-leftist group that had hyperlinks to Palestinian militants, was fashioned in 1971 and took accountability for a number of worldwide assaults, together with the takeover of the U.S. Consulate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1975. The group can be suspected within the 1972 machine-gun and grenade assault on the airport recognized on the time as Lod airport.
The PFLP is a radical faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization and gained notoriety after the simultaneous hijackings of 4 Western airliners in 1970 and the seizure of an Air France flight to Entebbe, Uganda.
PFLP official Marwan Abdul-Aal informed The Associated Press that Palestinians have at all times confronted a double commonplace as a result of once they resist Israeli occupation forces they’re referred to as terrorists. Meanwhile, Western nations now assist Ukrainian resistance in opposition to invading Russian troops, he mentioned.
“The world is not fair and this is what those people used to say,” Abdul-Aal mentioned about Japanese fighters who supported the Palestinians.
In the 1972 assault, Okamoto and two of his colleagues arrived in Tel Aviv on a flight from Europe, then collected their luggage, through which they’d packed rifles and grenades and opened fireplace, killing and wounding dozens, in line with AP experiences.
The two Japanese with Okamoto had been killed within the assault whereas he was wounded. Okamoto was later placed on trial in Israel and sentenced to life in jail.
Okamoto and 4 different Japanese had been arrested by Lebanese authorities in 1997 in jap Lebanon after spending years illegally within the nation, protected by Palestinian and Lebanese leftist teams throughout the chaotic days of the 1975-90 civil struggle. They had been placed on trial and the 4 had been handed over to Japan in 2000 whereas Okamoto grew to become the primary particular person to get political asylum in Lebanon.
Japan has been demanding for years that Okamoto be handed over by Lebanon however Beirut has repeatedly rejected the demand. He is taken into account a hero by many in Lebanon and the Arab world for championing the Palestinian trigger and opposing Israel.
During the opening session of his trial in Lebanon in 1997, Okamoto was requested if he had used a solid passport to enter Lebanon and he informed the Beirut Criminal Court: ″I don’t perceive why I’m dealing with a cost of utilizing a solid passport.”
“I’m an Arab resistance fighter,″ he mentioned. ″I did it for the Palestinian trigger.″