3:03 p.m., Tuesday, October 25, 1977
The top security guard for Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport had been warned of her arrival. He peered through his binoculars from inside the hectic terminal, scrutinizing her every move, oblivious to the deep blue skies that mirrored the nearby Mediterranean Sea.
Her honey-blond hair matched the description. So did her height—five foot six—and age—early twenties. His orders were to confirm her identity by passport number, and then detain her until the Israeli secret police, the Shin Bet, arrived.
The young American woman who disembarked the flight from Cyprus seemed unaware of the surveillance. Halfway down the airplane’s steps, she fidgeted with something around her neck, most likely a necklace, and readjusted her backpack. She was sandwiched among jubilant, effusive tourists, many of whom were realizing a lifelong dream of visiting the Holy Land, and her glowing hair shone like a beacon next to their black and gray locks.
A bold, bright sun glinted across the plane’s wings as she reached the bottom step, temporarily blinding the security guard. He lowered the binoculars to rub his eyes, losing sight of her as she climbed aboard a bus that would transport her and the other passengers a quarter mile to the terminal.
When the bus chugged to a stop and the passengers began to unload, he scanned the group until he re-discovered her. Much closer now, he could see that she wore embroidered blue jeans, a T-shirt, no make-up. O-mer! Unbelievable! She’s so young. At that moment he was distracted by the sight of another woman with long, sun-colored hair, this one wearing a business suit. Is she the target? He lowered the binoculars for a second time and blinked several times.
A mistake would not be tolerated.