Palestinian militants in Beirut on Monday marked the 50th anniversary of a deadly attack carried out by members of the Japanese Red Army at Israel’s Lod airport. Kozo Okamoto, the only surviving member of the three-man commando that killed 26 people on May 30, 1972 at the airport near Tel Aviv, made a rare appearance at the ceremony. The short event was held at a cemetery on the edge of Shatila Palestinian refugee camp where Okamoto, now 74, laid a wreath on a grave honouring his fellow JRA members and flashed a V-sign. The attack was planned by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has commemorated it every year for a half a century. “He came to defend the freedom of people who had their lands stollen. He believes in their rights, he believes in justice and human freedom,” a PFLP official who gave his name as Abu Yusef told AFP. An official with the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah also attended the ceremony in honour of Okamoto, who is still wanted in Japan for terrorism. “This valiant hero suffered in the enemy’s prisons… but today his heart beats with Palestine,” Hezbollah’s Abdallah Hamoud said. The Lod attack killed one Canadian, eight Israelis and 17 US citizens from Puerto Rico who had flown in on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The bloodbath at what was later named Ben Gurion airport set off a review of global security standards in the aviation industry. Okamoto, who was captured during the attack, was sentenced to life in prison in Israel but released in a huge prisoner exchange deal known as the Jibril Agreement in 1985.