|PLO terrorist operation which took over 100 Safed schoolchildren hostage and murdered 22 of the children.|
In May 1974, Israelis were stunned when a group of 100 high school students from Safed were taken hostage by a band of PLO terrorists while on a class trip in the nearby town of Ma’alot. The government negotiated with the terrorists for several hours but in the end, decided to follow a policy of non-negotiation. Soldiers attacked but due to miscalculations and mistakes, the terrorists managed to kill 22 children before the soldiers killed them.
 School Trip
On May 15th 1974 a group of high school students from Tzfat’s AMIT high school left Tzfat for a school trip. The trip was part of a youth group activity and the students were scheduled to sleep in the Ma’alot Meir Nativ Meir High School in Ma’alot.
 Terrorist Infiltration
Terrorists from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Palestine Liberation Army squad, infiltrated into Israel over the Lebanese border on the night of May 12-13 1974. The operation was planned by Mahmud Abbas, subsequent President of the Palestinian Authority.
The terrorists entered Ma’alot, a small town approximately 30 miles south of the Lebanese border. They entered the home of the Cohen family and murdered everyone in the house. They then went to the Nativ Meir school where they planned to wait for the schoolchildren to arrive in the morning.
 School Invasion
The terrorist squad entered the Meir Nativ school at approximately 3:00a.m. on May 15th and discovered 110 schoolchildren from Tzfat sleeping on the floor. Some children were able to jump out of the second-story window but the terrorists succeeded in rounding up most of the children and herding them into one classroom which they booby-trapped with grenades and bombs.
The terrorists entered into negotiations with the Israelis, demanding the release of 20 terrorists who were held in Israeli jails and safe flight to Syria. A few of the students were used as couriers to relay the terrorists’ demands to the Israeli officials gathered outside. The Israelis negotiated with the terrorists for several hours but in the early afternoon the Israeli cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Golda Meir, decided that they would not deviate from their policy of not negotiating with terrorists. They gave the OK for an elite unit of the Israeli army to break into the building and rescue the children.
At approximately 3:15p.m. a Golani commando unit, together with the Elite Special Forces Sayeret Matkal launched a rescue operation. Several mishaps and mistakes gave the terrorists time to kill and wound many of the children.
When the attack started the terrorists detonated the bombs that they had set along the perimeter of the classroom and threw grenades at the children. Twenty-two children were killed and sixty-eight were injured, many of them seriously.
Public outrage caused the government to commission an investigation and draw conclusions that would prevent such an occurrence in the future. A police unit was established to train to deal with hostage situations. The official name of the new AMIT school is the “School of the Twenty-Two.”