The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of a ceremony to honor the woman who led a 1978 hijacking of a civilian bus in Israel that left 35 people dead.
The cancellation of the ceremony planned for Thursday coincided with a visit to the West Bank by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who met with Palestinian leaders as part of Washington’s efforts to revive the moribund Middle East peace process.
Three Palestinian officials involved in organizing the event to honor Dalal al-Mughrabi, killed in the attack, said Israel told the Palestinian Authority to cancel the ceremony at which a traffic circle near Ramallah was to have been named after her and a memorial plaque unveiled.
The Israel Defense Forces, which controls access to the city, said initial checks could not find record of such a demand.
Mughrabi is remembered as a heroine by Palestinians, while Israel considers her a terrorist.
A member of the Fatah group led at the time by the late Yasser Arafat, Mughrabi and a group of fighters landed by sea on a beach in northern Israel.
They shot dead an American woman taking photos of wildlife and then hijacked the bus on the busy Haifa-Tel Aviv highway, where they shot at passing cars.
The vehicle was brought to a halt at a police roadblock at the entrance to Tel Aviv, where a gunfight ensued and explosives detonated.
“The commemoration should have been on the 11th, on the anniversary of her martyrdom,” said Rashida al-Mughrabi, Dalal al-Mughrabi’s sister and an officer in the Palestinian Authority security forces.
“A decision to cancel the celebration came from official channels,” she told Reuters