PLO leader Yasser Arafat had just returned to Tunis from a trip to Morocco but was not at the compound when it came under attack. He and an aide later toured the devastated site, where his political headquarters, his residence and the homes of several PLO officials were destroyed. PLO Secretary General Abu Abbas vowed to retaliate, saying, "We will hit very hard."
A background paper distributed by the Israeli army also listed several other operations allegedly planned and carried out by PLO members whose offices were located in the Tunis complex, including an aborted attack against military headquarters in Israel last April, an attempted car bombing in Jerusalem and the placing of explosive charges at Israeli and military hitchhiking stations.
The Israeli air force said Tuesday's operation was "the longest-range attack" ever undertaken by Israel. On July 4, 1976, Israeli planes traveled 2,200 miles from Israel to free the hostages of an Air France airliner hijacked by Palestinians to Entebbe airport in Uganda. In July, 1981, Israeli jets flew 1,000 miles to bomb an Iraqi nuclear reactor outside Baghdad.