Operation Entebbe was a rescue mission performed by several IDF units in
Uganda – 4,000 kilometers from Israel – on July 4th 1976, for the
liberation of 98 Jewish and Israeli hostages.
On June 27th, an Air France aircraft was hijacked by
Palestinian and German terrorists. The hijackers landed the plane at Benghazi,
Libya and flew it from there to Entebbe in Uganda, where all non-Jewish
passengers were freed. Israel had tried to develop a dialogue with Ugandan
President Idi Amin, who collaborated with the terrorists. Simultaneously,
preparations began for a military operation, based on intelligence regarding
the situation in the Entebbe Airport.
Following the Government’s decision to go forward with the plan, four
transport aircrafts took off from Sharm el-Sheikh en route to Entebbe. The raid
on the airport resulted in five Israeli casualties: IDF officer Yonatan (Yoni)
Netanyahu (brother of MK and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu); Dora
Bloch, an elderly woman hospitalized during the raid and murdered after the
raid (her remains were returned to Israel in June 1979); Ida Borochovitch, Jean
Jacques Maimoni, and Pasko Cohen were killed during the Operation. On the
return flight, the planes landed in Nairobi, Kenya for refueling to attend to
the fatally wounded with medical care. IDF Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur
announced it at first as an emergency landing, but it seemed to have been
coordinated with Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta.
Various Arab countries and groups, the Communist Bloc, and many African
countries condemned the Entebbe Operation and referred to it as a pirate act,
while Western countries praised it. The United Nations’ Security Council did
not conclude a resolution in this matter. Israel was in high spirits, and the operation
improved the social atmosphere within the IDF. The operation was congruent with
Israel’s policy not to negotiate with terrorists, whatever risks are at stake.
On July 4th 1976, a festive plenum sitting was held in which
the Government announced the liberation of the hostages in Uganda. Knesset
Speaker, Yisrael Yeshayahu, before allowing the Prime Minister to speak, read
from Psalms: "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good…"
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