March 6, 1975
An eight-man Palestine Liberation Organization raid planned by Abu Nidal hits the beach in Tel Aviv around 11 p.m. and, after being spotted by police, attacks the Savoy Hotel. The terrorists kill three civilians, seize hostages and demand the release of Palestinians held by Israel. They also fatally wound Pvt. Moshe Deutschmann during a shootout after the Golani Brigade soldier, home on leave, is the first to respond to the attack at the hotel.
Uzi Yairi, a former commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Sayeret Matkal, leads a charge by the commando unit into the Savoy the next day. The raid kills seven of the terrorists and captures the eighth while freeing five hostages, but Yairi, another soldier and five hostages are killed. The final Israeli death toll is 11: eight civilians and three soldiers.
Yairi, considered one of the most courageous commanders in Israeli history, had served in a senior intelligence post since the 1973 Yom Kippur War and volunteered to command the counterterrorist response because of his Sayeret Matkal experience.
Born in Ramat Gan on July 31, 1936, Yairi was raised in Holon. The IDF sent Yairi to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to study economics and geography. He then joined Sayeret Matkal and became its commander shortly before the June 1967 war.
At Yairi’s funeral, IDF Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur says: “Uzi Yairi could not resist the impulse to share the yoke. I saw him at the briefing before the battle, and I sensed his determination to go into the hotel.”
He is survived by his wife, Dalia, and five children.