Coastal Road massacre

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Coastal Road massacre
Perpetrator: Fatah
Date: 11 March 1978
Location: Coastal Highway, Israel
Motive: Palestinian nationalism

Revenge for the death of Kamal Adwan

Crimes: Kidnapping

Mass murder

We were in our station wagon, driving along the coastal highway. We saw something odd ahead – a bus, but it seemed to be stopped. Then we saw someone lying on the road. There was shattered glass all over, children screaming. Then we heard the gunshots. Omri was asleep in the back seat. The bullet passed through the front seat and hit his head, killing him instantly. My husband was shot in the arm, and lost the movement in his fingers.
~ Sharon Tel-Oren, one of the survivors of the attack, describing her son's murder by the insurgents.

The Coastal Road massacre was a terror attack that occurred on the Coastal Highway near Tel Aviv in 1978, committed by Fatah insurgents.


On 9 March 1978, 13 militants set out from Lebanon to Israel in Zodiac boats. Two of the militants drowned when their boats capsized, but the other 11 made landfall on 11 March at Ma'agan Michael, north of Tel Aviv. They met American photographer Gail Rubin, and asked her where they were. After she told them, the lead militant, Dalal Mughrabi, shot her dead.

After killing Rubin, they walked up a nearby highway before hijacking a taxi and killing the occupants. While driving towards Tel Aviv, the militants came across a bus, which they boarded and hijacked. During the ride, they threw grenades at passing cars and executed several passengers, throwing at least one passenger off the bus. At one point they commandeered Bus 901, traveling from Tel Aviv to Haifa, and forced the passengers from the first bus to board it. They later stopped the bus to kill several of the hostages, and fired at a car containing the Tel-Oren family, killing a teenager, Omri Tel-Oren, and injuring his father Hanoch. However, by this point the Israeli police had been alerted to the attack, and had begun chasing the bus.

The bus managed to drive through several police roadblocks, before eventually being stopped by a large roadblock at the Gilot Junction when the tires were punctured by a spikestrip. During the ensuing firefight, several hostages were shot by militants trying to escape. Assaf Hefetz, the leader of a responding counter-terrorism squad, managed to board the bus and killed two militants before being wounded and retreating. Eventually, the bus exploded, supposedly due to a grenade detonated by Mughrabi, killing all but two of the perpetrators: Khaled Abu Asba and Hussein Fayyad, who were both captured alive and later sentenced to life imprisonment.