Decades After Adolf Eichmann, El Al Will Again Fly to Argentina

The mastermind of the Holocaust's Final Solution was nabbed by Israeli agents and smuggled onto an El Al flight that brought him to Israel, where he was tried and executed

An El Al aircraft at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport
An El Al aircraft at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport. Nir Elias/Reuters File Photo

The Argentinean and Israeli national air carriers have signed an agreement to begin flights between Buenos Aires and Tel Aviv. Aerolineas Argentinas President Mario Dell’Acqua and an El Al Israel Airlines vice president met on Friday at the Argentinean embassy in Tel Aviv to sign the final agreement between the two national airlines.

El Al and Aerolíneas Argentinas flights will begin next month. Currently a visit  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Argentina in September as part of a visit to Latin American countries is in the planning stages and, if confirmed, Netanyahu will announce the first flight during the visit. The visit, tentatively scheduled for September 12 and 13, would be the first visit of a sitting Israeli prime minister to Argentina and Latin America. According to the announcement in May by Argentina’s official gazette, the commercial flights will make a stopover in Madrid or Barcelona.

The president of Argentina’s Jewish political umbrella DAIA, Ariel Cohen Sabban, and the group’s vice president, Alberto Indij, participated in the codeshare signing event. “We celebrate the historic event, which means that more Argentineans can travel to visit Israel and also we are happy to see the Argentinean flag in the Israeli sky soon,” Cohen Sabban told JTA from Israel.

A 1962 file photo shows Adolf Eichmann standing in his glass cage, flanked by guards, in the Jerusalem courtroom where he was tried for war crimes committed during World War II.
AP

In fact, a 2017 El Al flight between Israel and Argentina won’t be the first such flight in history. On May 19, 1960, a special Israeli delegation headed by Minister Without Portfolio Abba Eban left Tel Aviv for Buenos Aires to participate in the 150th anniversary celebration of Argentine independence. At least this was the official version of that inaugural trip, as JTA reported it at the time.

On May 20, 1960, after nine days in captivity in Buenos Aires, Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was brought onto an El Al plane that had landed in Buenos Aires the day before carrying the diplomatic delegation from Israel. The Holocaust mastermind was dressed in the uniform of an El Al crew member. The first El Al flight from Buenos Aires to Tel Aviv stopped for refueling in Dakar, Senegal. On May 22, Eichmann landed in Israel and was arrested. He was convicted in Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity in 1961 and hanged the following year. It is the only time that Israel has used the death penalty.