On this day: Shlomo Argov is shot

June 3 1982: Attack on Israeli diplomat

By Jennifer Lipman, June 3, 2011

The Israeli ambassador to the UK, Shlomo Argov, was walking out of the Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair, when he was shot in the head at point-blank range by three attackers.

He survived the attack, barely, and underwent emergency brain surgery. The attack left him paralysed in his early 50s, except for some movement in his head.

He was treated first in a British hospital and after three months transferred to Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital. He would stay there for two decades until his death in 2003. He had served three years as a diplomat in London.

There were three men behind the attack, said to be affiliated with Abu Nidal's Palestinie National Liberation Movement terrorist group.

One was shot on the scene by security guards, the other two fled but were later arrested and all were convicted, sentenced to a total of 95 years in jail. Four days after the attack, the Lebanon war began.

What Yoav Biran, then a minister at the Israeli embassy in London, told the JC: I went straight to the embassy and waited for my colleagues to arrive in the morning. They did not feel we could open the embassy for normal business. I asked them to think, what would Shlomo Argov expect of us, and knowing the man, they all agreed with me that he would plead with us not to allow the terrorists a victory they did not deserve – the disruption of the life of Israel, or the work of its embassy.

See more from the JC archives here.

Last updated: 9:33am, June 3 2011