Thirty years ago on the night of July 3rd and morning of July 4th in 1976, Israeli commandos flew into the heart of Africa to the old terminal building at Uganda's Entebbe Airport and in a lighting operation freed 103 hostages.
Some 250 passengers had been hijacked a week earlier aboard Air France Flight 139 en route from Athens to Paris by the Marxist-Leninist PLO faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Once in control of the plane, the terrorists diverted the flight to Idi Amin's bloodthirsty dictatorship, after refueling supplied by the already veteran terrorist regime of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi. The terrorists gradually released most passengers, retaining only those with Israeli passports or Jewish surnames plus the Air France crew of Captain Michel Bacos, who refused to abandon any of his charges.
The German and Arabs hijackers – this was a comradely joint project of Baader-Meinhof and the PLO – demanded the release of jailed Palestinian terrorists in an assortment of Israeli and European jails and threatened to start murdering the hostages if their demands went unmet. With the passengers captive in the middle of a seemingly inaccessible African tyranny, there was no reason to suppose anyone, the Israelis included, would have any choice but to cave in.
Instead, only hours before the deadline, Israeli commandos flew the 2,500 miles to Uganda in four C-130 Hercules military transport planes, taking the terrorists and their Ugandan enablers entirely by surprise. The terminal building holding the hostages was stormed, seven of the ten terrorists were killed, along with about 40 Ugandan soldiers, and all but four hostages were safely spirited away. The Israelis neutralized Amin's air force to avoid a catastrophic pursuit by Ugandan pilots, eleven of their MIG jets being destroyed on the ground. All Israeli commandos returned alive but for their field commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu.
A United Nations Security Council debate had achieved little but it did at least provide a platform for a denunciation against the terrorists and their supporters by Israel's UN Ambassador, Chaim Herzog, while Israel basked perhaps for the last time in international acclaim and sympathy for resolutely fighting terrorism. No international police action had procured the hostages release and no one had been able to offer Israel more than tea and sympathy. As so often before, the Israelis had demonstrated that they relied on no one except themselves to fight for their own.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
We Could Use The Entebbe- Era Israel Again
Good FrontPageMag piece, includes this retrospective about the Entebbe raid: