On Saturday, September 25, 1985, three Israeli citizens were murdered in cold blood on their yacht in Larnaca, Cyprus. The killers were terrorists belonging to Force 17, an operational arm closely associated with the PLO leadership.
Israel decided to retaliate by striking back at those directly responsible. The IAF was assigned with the longest air strike in its history, against the PLO headquarters (HQ) in Tunis.
The main challenge was the distance: 1,280 miles each way. Planners had to account for inflight refueling, communications and rescue contingencies, as well as physiological considerations.
The PLO complex at Hamam-a-Shatt on the Tunisian coast included Yasir Arafat’s HQ, the offices of his senior advisors, the offices of Force 17, and the organization’s operations, communications, and public relations offices.
The critical air-to-air refueling went without a hitch. As the F-15 Eagle jets approached the coastline, it became apparent that the weather, which had worried mission planners, would not pose a problem. Each pilot identified his target and released his bombs as planned. Arafat’s headquarters took a direct hit. The other targets were either damaged,or destroyed, including the barracks of Force 17.
The IAF succeeded in reminding its enemies that Israel holds them accountable for their actions, no matter where they may hide.