Mothers Bus Incident - March 7, 1988

The Mothers Bus incident is a famous bus hostage rescue incident in Israel's CT history. In March 7, 1988, three terrorists crossed the Israeli-Egyptian border and entered Israeli soil. Soon afterwards they tried to kidnap an IDF car with four plain cloths unarmed IDF officers in it. The four officers escaped from the car when they saw the armed terrorists. The terrorists then gained control over the car and headed north at the direction of the Israeli city of Dimona.

Near the city, the terrorists kidnapped a bus with 11 civilian hostages on board, all of them employees of the Israeli nuclear reactor in Dimona. Out of the 11 hostages 10 were woman, all of them mothers and this is the reason for this incident name - the Mothers Bus.

The Israeli Police Negotiations Unit arrived to the area within a hour, and began negotiating with the terrorists. Unfortunately, the first security forces on the scene made promises to the terrorists hey couldn't keep, and as a result, when the Police Negotiations Unit began talking to the terrorists, they were sure they had been deceived and after an hour executed the only male passenger in the bus.

At that point the senior officers on the scene decided that the only solution is a tactical one. The first takeover unit to arrive on the scene, like in most other hostage cases, was YAMAM. The second unit was the IDF Sayeret MATKAL.

YAMAM Operator during bus hostage rescue takeover exercise.

At first, it seems that Sayeret MATKAL will get to be the designated takeover unit and make the raid, but Unit YAMAM Commanding Officer (CO) at the time - Alick Ron - didn't gave up and it was finally decided that YAMAM will execute the raid.

Preparing for the raid. On the left is the former Israeli Prime Minster and then the IDF Deputy Chief of the General Staff - Ehoud Barak. Standing next to him is Dan Shomron, then the IDF Chief of the General Staff. Personnel with blackout faces are YAMAM operators.

The raid started with stun grenades thrown inside the bus and then a Unit YAMAM team storm the bus and in less the 60 seconds finished the raid. All three terrorists were killed but they did managed to kill two more passengers before the entry team took them out.

During the raid. YAMAM storms the bus.

Till today, the Mothers Bus incident is the only terrorists oriented hostage rescue incident in which YAMAM actually deployed tactically and rescued the hostages.

Minutes after the raid. Security vehicles secure the area.

Operations Guide