The Hijacking of El Al Flight 426: The Advent of Air Terrorism

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On 23 July 1968, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked El Al flight 426 en route from Italy to Israel and diverted it to Algeria. Scholars largely agree this act marked an important milestone in modern international terrorism and especially in the advent of air terrorism. Yet to date, no one has studied in depth the events as they unfolded in different world capitals, along with their implications for national and global security and politics. Based on previously untapped archival material, this article will focus on how the hijacking of El Al flight 426 modeled a new era of plane hijackings by, for example, setting a standard that hostages of a hijacked plane could be exchanged for prisoners. It will also demonstrate how some elements of this event did not repeat themselves in future hijackings, such as the demand made by the Algerians to hold onto the Israeli plane, arguing it was an instrument of war. In all, this article will exhibit how elements from the 23 July 1968 hijacking served to signify a shift in international air terrorism.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1072-1088
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Contemporary History
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Algeria
  • El Al flight 426
  • Israel
  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
  • air terrorism
  • international terrorism
  • plane hijackings

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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