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Operation Entebbe: The hostages come home, July 4, 1976
Operation Entebbe: The hostages come home, July 4, 1976

Operation Entebbe

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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