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Operation Entebbe

Operation Entebbe
Operation Entebbe Part of Arab-Israeli Conflict
Date Location Result 4 July 1976 Entebbe Airport, Uganda Mission successful; most hostages rescued

Survivors Aircraft type Operator Tail number Flight origin Stopover PFLP Revolutionäre Zellen Uganda Destination

256 Airbus A300 Air France F-BVGG Ben Gurion International Airport Athens (Ellinikon) International Airport Charles De Gaulle International Airport

Belligerents Israel

Commanders Yekutiel "Kuti" Adam Dan Shomron Yonatan "Yoni" Netanyahu‫? ל״ז‬ Strength Approximately 100 Commandos, plus air crew and support personnel Casualties and losses 1 commando officer killed 5 commandos wounded 7 hijackers killed 45 Ugandan soldiers killed 11 aircraft destroyed 7 hijackers Unknown number of Ugandan soldiers Wadie Haddad Wilfried Böse† Brigitte Kuhlmann† Idi Amin

3 hostages killed during the raid, 1 additional hostage later killed at a nearby hospital 10 hostages wounded Air France Flight 139 Hijacking summary Date Type Site Passengers Crew Injuries Fatalities 27 June 1976 Hijacking Greek Airspace 248 12 10 4

Operation Entebbe, also known as the Jonatan Operation (Hebrew: ‫ןתנוי עצבמ‬‎) or Entebbe Raid or Operation Thunderbolt, was a counter-terrorism hostage-rescue mission carried out by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on the night of 3 July and early morning of 4 July 1976. In the wake of the hijacking of Air France Flight 139 and the hijackers’ threats to kill the hostages if their prisoner release demands were not met, a plan was drawn up to airlift the hostages to safety. These plans took into account the likelihood of armed resistance from Ugandan military troops. Originally codenamed Operation Thunderball by the IDF (or Operation Thunderbolt in some sources), the operation was retroactively renamed Operation Yonatan in memory of the Sayeret Matkal commander Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan "Yoni" Netanyahu, who was killed in action. Three hostages and 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed and five Israeli commandos were wounded. A fourth hostage was killed by Ugandan army officers at a nearby hospital.[1]

On 27 June 1976, Air France Flight 139, an Airbus A300 (Airbus A300B4-203), registration F-BVGG (cn 019), originating from Tel Aviv, Israel, carrying 238 passengers and a crew of 12, took off from Athens, heading for Paris. Soon after the 12:30 p.m. takeoff, the flight was hijacked by two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the


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Nationality Belgium Brazil Denmark France Greece Germany Israel Italy Japan South Korea Spain United Kingdom United States Total Passengers 4 2 2 42 25 1 92 9 1 1 5 30 34 248

Operation Entebbe
Crew 0 0 0 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12 Total 4 2 2 54 25 1 92 9 1 1 5 30 34 260

Liberation of Palestine - External Operations (PFLP-EO) and two Germans from the German "Revolutionary Cells (RZ)" (Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann), who commandeered the flight, diverting it to Benghazi, Libya. There it was held on the ground for seven hours for refuelling, during which time a female hostage who pretended she was pregnant and having a miscarriage was released.[2] The plane left Benghazi, and at 3:15 it arrived at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. At Entebbe, the four hijackers were joined by four others, supported by the proPalestinian forces of Uganda’s President, Idi Amin. The hijackers were led by Böse (and not, as occasionally reported, by Carlos the Jackal). They demanded the release of 40 Palestinians held in Israel. and 13 other detainees imprisoned in Kenya, France, Switzerland, and West Germany; if these demands were not met, they threatened to begin killing hostages on 1 July 1976. The hijackers deliberately sorted the hostages into Jew and Gentiles.[3] As they did so a Holocaust survivor showed Böse a camp registration number tattooed on his arm, Böse protested "I’m no Nazi! ... I am an idealist."[3] The hijackers held the passengers hostage for a week in the transit hall of Entebbe Airport (now the old terminal). Some hostages were released, but 105 Israelis and French Jews remained captive.[4] The hijackers threatened to kill them if Israel did not comply with their demands.

Upon the announcement by the hijackers that the airline crew and non-Jewish passengers would be released and put on another Air France plane that had been brought to Entebbe for that purpose, the flight captain (Michel Bacos) told the hijackers that all passengers, including the remaining ones, were his responsibility, and that he would not leave them behind. Bacos’ entire crew followed suit. A French nun also refused to leave, insisting that one of the remaining hostages take her place, but she was forced into the awaiting Air France plane by Ugandan soldiers.[5] A total of 83 Israeli and/ or Jewish hostages remained, as well as 20 others, most of whom included the crew of the Air France plane.

Nationalities Raid
On the 1 July deadline,[6] the Israeli government offered to negotiate with the hijackers in order to extend the deadline to 4 July. Idi Amin asked the hijackers to extend the deadline until 4 July, so he could take a diplomatic trip to Port Louis, Mauritius, in order to officially hand over the chairmanship of the Organisation of African Unity to Seewoosagur Ramgoolam.[7] This extension of the hostage deadline would prove crucial in allowing Israeli forces enough time to get to Entebbe.


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On 3 July, the Israeli cabinet approved a rescue mission,[8] Operation Entebbe, under the command of Major General Yekutiel "Kuti" Adam; the Deputy Commander was Matan Vilnai.[9] Brigadier General Dan Shomron was appointed to command the operation on the ground.[10] After days of collecting intelligence and planning by Netanyahu’s deputy Moshe "Muki" Betser, four Israeli Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft flew secretly to Entebbe Airport, by cover of night, without aid of Entebbe ground control. Their route was over Sharm al-Sheikh, and down the international flight path over the Red Sea, flying at a height of no more than 100 feet to avoid radar detection by Egyptian, Sudanese, and Saudi Arabian forces. Near the south outlet of the Red Sea the C-130s turned right and passed south of Djibouti. From there they went to a point northeast of Nairobi, Kenya (likely across Somalia and the Ogaden area of Ethiopia), then turned west passing through the African Rift Valley and over Lake Victoria.[11] They were followed by two Boeing 707 jets. The first Boeing contained medical facilities and landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. The commander of the operation, General Yekutiel Adam, was on board the second Boeing that circled over Entebbe Airport during the raid.[10] Oberstleutnant Ulrich Wegener, commander of the elite German GSG 9 anti-terrorist group, was invited to participate in the Israeli hostage rescue mission, and was rumored to be one of the 5 injured commandos on the raid. The Israeli ground task force numbered approximately 100 personnel, and comprised the following: • This small group comprised the overall ground commander, Brig. Gen. Shomron, and the communications and support personnel. • Led by Lt. Col. Netanyahu, this force was composed entirely of commandos from Sayeret Matkal, and were given the primary task of assaulting the old terminal and rescuing the hostages. Major Betser led one of the element’s assault teams, Matan Vilnai led another. •

Operation Entebbe
1. Securing the area, and preventing any hostile ground force from interfering with the C-130 Hercules aircraft and the actual rescue. 2. Destroying the squadron of MiG fighter jets on the ground, to prevent any possible interceptions by the Ugandan Air Force. 3. Assisting in the ground refuelling of the air transports. 4. Providing protection for and assisting in the loading of the hostages aboard the transports. The Israeli forces landed at Entebbe an hour before midnight, with their cargo bay doors already open. A black Mercedes with accompanying Land Rovers was taken along to give the impression that the Israeli troops driving from the landed aircraft to the terminal building were an escort for a returning Idi Amin, or other high-ranking official. The Mercedes and its escort vehicles were quickly driven by the Israeli assault team members to the airport terminal in the same fashion as Amin. However, along the way, two Ugandan sentries, who were aware that Idi Amin had recently purchased a white Mercedes to replace his black one, ordered this procession of vehicles to stop. The commandos shot both of these sentries with silenced pistols. As they pulled away, an Israeli commando in one of the Land Rovers noticed that they had failed to eliminate the sentries and immediately killed them with a burst from his Kalashnikov. Fearing premature alerting of associates to the hijackers, the Israeli assault team was quickly sent into action. The hostages were in the main hall of the airport building, directly adjacent to the runway. The Israelis sprang from their vehicles and burst into the terminal, shouting through a megaphone, "Stay down! Stay down! We are Israeli soldiers."[12] in both Hebrew and English. A 19-year-old French Jew named Jean-Jacques Maimoni (who chose to identify himself as an Israeli Jew to the hijackers even though he had a French passport), stood up, however.[12] He was killed by the Israeli commandos, who mistook him for a hijacker. Another hostage, Pasco Cohen, 52, manager of an Israeli medical insurance fund, was also fatally wounded by gunfire, either from the hijackers or accidentally by the Israeli commandos.[12] A third hostage, 56-year-old Ida Borochovitch, a Russian Jew who had emigrated to Israel, was also killed in the


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crossfire.[13] At one point, an Israeli commando called out in Hebrew, "Where are the rest of them?", referring to the hijackers.[12] The hostages pointed to a connecting door of the airport’s main hall, into which the Israeli commandos threw several hand grenades. They then entered the room and shot dead the three remaining hijackers, thus completing their assault. Meanwhile, the other three C-130 Hercules had landed and unloaded armoured personnel carriers, which were to be used for defense during the anticipated hour of refueling, for the destruction of Ugandan jet fighters at the airport so as to prevent them from pursuing the Israelis after their departure from Entebbe Airport, and for intelligencegathering. After the raid, the Israeli assault team returned to their aircraft and began loading the hostages on board. Ugandan soldiers shot at them in the process. The Israeli commandos returned fire, killing many Ugandan soldiers. During this brief but intense firefight, a Ugandan sniper in the airport control tower shot and killed Commander Yonatan Netanyahu. He was the only Israeli commando killed in the operation. The Israelis finished the loading, loaded Netanyahu’s body into one of the airplanes, and then left Entebbe Airport. The entire assault lasted less than 30 minutes, and all eight hijackers were killed. At least five other Israeli commandos were wounded. Out of the 105 hostages, three were killed and approximately 10 were wounded. A total of 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed during the raid, and about 11 Ugandan Army Air Force MiG-17 fighter planes were destroyed on the ground at Entebbe Airport. The rescued hostages were flown to Israel via Nairobi, Kenya, shortly after the fighting. Dora Bloch, a 75-year-old hostage taken to Mulago Hospital in Kampala, was murdered by the Ugandan government, as were some of her doctors and nurses for apparently trying to intervene.[13] In April 1987, Henry Kyemba, Uganda’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice at the time, told the Uganda Human Rights Commission that Bloch had been dragged from her hospital bed and murdered by two army officers on Idi Amin’s orders. Bloch’s remains were recovered near a sugar plantation 20 miles (32 km) east of Kampala in 1979,[1] after the

Operation Entebbe
Ugandan–Tanzanian War led to the end of Amin’s rule.

Israeli firms were often involved in building projects in Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. One reason the raid was so wellplanned was that the building in which the hostages were being held was built by Solel Boneh, an Israeli construction firm, which still had the blueprints, and supplied them to the government of Israel. Additionally, Mossad (Israel’s intelligence service) built an accurate picture of the whereabouts of the hostages, the number of militants. and the involvement of Ugandan troops from the released hostages in Paris.[14] While planning the military operation, the Israeli army built a partial replica of the airport terminal with the help of some Israeli civilians who had helped build it in the first place. A very high level of secrecy was maintained, and the civilian contractors who had built the replica were detained as "guests" of the military until the rescue was declared a success.[15] According to a 5 July. 2006, Associated Press interview with raid organizer "Muki" Betser, Mossad operatives extensively interviewed the hostages who had been released.[16] As a result, another source of information was a French-Jewish passenger who had been mistakenly released with the non-Jewish hostages. Betser reports that the man had military training and "a phenomenal memory," allowing him to give information about the number and arms of the hostagetakers, among other useful details.[16] In the week prior to the raid, Israel had tried a number of political avenues to obtain the release of the hostages. Many sources indicate that the Israeli cabinet was prepared to release Palestinian prisoners if a military solution seemed unlikely to succeed. A retired IDF officer, Baruch "Burka" Bar-Lev, had known Idi Amin for many years and was considered to have a strong personal relationship with him. At the request of the cabinet he spoke with Amin on the phone many times, attempting to obtain the release of the hostages, without success.[17][18]


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Operation Entebbe
national sovereignty of a United Nations member state" (meaning Uganda).[26] For refusing to depart when given leave to do so by the hijackers, Captain Bacos was reprimanded by his superiors at Air France and suspended from duty for a period.[27] Idi Amin was humiliated by the surprise raid. He believed Kenya had colluded with Israel in planning the raid and hundreds of Kenyans living in Uganda were massacred soon afterwards. But from this time, Amin’s regime began to break down. Two years later, Amin was forced into exile in Saudi Arabia. He died in Jeddah in August 2003. [28] In the ensuing years, Betser and the Netanyahu brothers (Iddo and Benjamin), all Sayeret Matkal veterans, argued in increasingly public forums about who was to blame for the unexpected early firefight which caused Yonatan Netanyahu’s death and partial loss of tactical surprise.[29] [30] This has become an open wound in the close-knit Sayeret Matkal family.

Claim of Israeli involvement
According to a UK government file on the crisis, an unnamed contact within the EuroArab Parliamentary Association told a British diplomat in Paris, shortly after the hijacking, that the Israeli Secret Services and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), acted together to seize the plane. According to this version, the Shin Bet helped design the operation to undermine the PLO’s standing in France and its rapprochement with the USA.[19] Israel denied the contact’s claim about Israeli involvement,[20] with officials in the Vice Premier’s office calling it "foolishness" and "not worthy of comment."[21] The absence of specific details supporting the allegation led to claims that there had been a deliberate act of disinformation, an attempt to develop a conspiracy theory.[22]

The government of Uganda later convened a session of the United Nations Security Council to seek official condemnation of the Israeli raid,[23] as a violation of Ugandan sovereignty. The Security Council ultimately declined to pass any resolution on the matter. In his address to the Council, Israeli ambassador Chaim Herzog said: We come with a simple message to the Council: we are proud of what we have done because we have demonstrated to the world that a small country, in Israel’s circumstances, with which the members of this Council are by now all too familiar, the dignity of man, human life and human freedom constitute the highest values. We are proud not only because we have saved the lives of over a hundred innocent people—men, women and children—but because of the significance of our act for the cause of human freedom.[24][25] —HERZOG, Chaim. UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim described the raid as "a serious violation of the

The incident was the subject of several films, two of which were U.S. productions with American/British casts; a third was produced in Israel with mostly Israeli actors in the key roles. The hijacking of Air France Flight AF139 and the subsequent rescue mission is featured in the documentary Operation Thunderbolt: Entebbe.[31] • Victory at Entebbe (1976): with Anthony Hopkins, Burt Lancaster, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Dreyfuss, Director: Marvin J. Chomsky • Raid On Entebbe (1977): with Peter Finch, Horst Buchholz, Charles Bronson, Yaphet Kotto, and James Woods, Director: Irvin Kershner, Producer: Edgar J. Scherick • Mivtsa Yonatan (English title: Operation Thunderbolt) (1977): Israeli Yehoram Gaon played Col. Netanyahu, Austrian Sybil Danning and German Klaus Kinski played the hijackers. Director: Menahem Golan, Movie theme song: ’Eretz Hatzvi’ ("Land of Deer") performed by Yehoram Gaon • Operation Thunderbolt: Entebbe (2000): same movie as above • The incident was also featured in Rise and Fall of Idi Amin (1980) and The Last King of Scotland (2006).


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• Assault on Entebbe, an episode of the National Geographic Channel documentary Situation Critical featured this incident.

Operation Entebbe

[19] Parkinson, Daniel (June 2007). "Israel hijack role ’was queried’". BBC. 6710289.stm. Retrieved on 1 June 2007. [20] "Eitam: UK claims of Israeli collusion in 1976 hijacking ’audacious’." Israel Insider. 2 June 2007. [1] ^ "Body of Amin Victim Is Flown Back to [21] Israel: "BBC Entebbe Story ’Ridiculous’." Israel." New York Times. 4 June 1979, Israel National News. 2 June 2007. Monday, p. A3. [22] Hochstein, Joseph M. Claims of Entebbe [2] "Mossad took photos, Entebbe Operation conspiracy lack credibility. was on its way." Ynetnews. 2006 8 June 2007 [3] ^ David Tinnin, Like Father, Time [23] Teltsch, Kathleen. "Uganda Bids U.N. (magazine), 8 August 1977. A review of Condemn Israel for Airport Raid." New Hitler’s children by Julian Becker, Page 2 York Times. 10 July 1976. (Section: The [4] Ben, Eyal. "Special: Entebbe’s unsung Week In Review) hero." 3 July 2006. [24] Herzog, Chaim. Heroes of Israel. p. 284. [5] Feldinger, Lauren Gelfond (2006-06-29). [25] Fendel, Hillel. "Israel Commemorates "Back to Entebbe". Jerusalem Post. 30th Anniversary of Entebbe Rescue." Israel National News. Satellite?cid=1150885879544&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter. [26] National Review, 9 July 2007, Vol. LIX, "A nun who refused to separate herself No. 12, see also from the Jews was pushed out to 2007/06/14/world/europe/14cndfreedom" waldheim.html?_r=1&pagewanted=3&hp&oref=slog [6] Grimes, Paul. "Rescuing the Entebbe [27] Kaplan, David E. "A historic hostageHostages." New York Times. Friday, 30 taking revisited." Jerusalem Post. 3 July 1976. (The Weekend, p. 51) August 2006. [7] Lipkin-Shakhak, Tali. "The Forgotten [28] "1976: Israelis rescue Entebbe hostages" Hero of Entebbe" Maariv. 16 June 2006. “BBC – On this day”, 4 July 2008 [8] Smith Terence. "Hostages Freed as [29] Sharon Roffe-Ofir "Entebbe’s open Israelis Raid Uganda Airport." New York wound" Ynet, 7 February 2006 Times. Sunday, 4 July 1976. [30] Josh Hamerman "Battling against ’the [9] Matan Vilnai: Deputy Minister of falsification of history’" Ynet News, 4 Defense. Israel Ministry of Foreign February 2007 Affairs. [31] McFadden, Robert. "6 Film Studios Vie [10] ^ Israel Defense Forces - Entebbe Diary Over Entebbe Raid." New York Times. 26 [11] page 100 of book Ninety Minutes at July 1976. Entebbe, see Operation Entebbe#References [12] ^ Special: Entebbe’s unsung hero - Israel News, Ynetnews • Hastings, Max. Yoni, Hero of Entebbe [13] ^ "Entebbe’s unsung hero", Bantam Doubleday Dell Publ., 1979. ISBN 2006. 0-385-27127-1 [14] Time Magazine, "The Rescue: ’We Do the • Netanyahu, Iddo. Yoni’s Last Battle: The Impossible’." Time Magazine. Monday, Rescue at Entebbe, 1976, Gefen Books. 12 July 1976. ISBN 965-229-283-4 [15] Preparation for the Raid on Entebbe • Netanyahu, Iddo. Entebbe: A Defining Answers 2000 Ltd. Verified 14 Dec 2008. Moment in the War on Terrorism: The [16] ^ "Israel marks 30th anniversary of Jonathan Netanyahu Story, New Leaf Entebbe." Associated Press in USA Press, 2003. ISBN 0-89221-553-4 Today. 5 July 2006. • Netanyahu, Jonathan / Netanyahu, [17] "Vindication for the Israelis." Time Benjamin / Netanyahu, Iddo. Self-Portrait Magazine. 26 July 1976] of a Hero: From the Letters of Jonathan [18] "War of Words over a Tense Border." Netanyahu, 1963-1976, Warner Books, Time Magazine. 26 July 1976. 1998. ISBN 0-446-67461-3




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• Netanyahu, Jonathan. The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu, Gefen Books, 2001. ISBN 965-229-267-2 • Stevenson, William . Ninety Minutes at Entebbe, Bantam Books, 1976. ISBN 0-553-10482-9 • Richler, Mordecai. Solomon Gursky Was Here, Penguin Books, 1989, pp. 539–41. ISBN 0-14-011608-7

Operation Entebbe
• Wadie Haddad • Aspen Movie Map — a project whose funding came about because of Operation Entebbe

External links
• - The Israeli Special Forces Database • BBC Article and Videos - 4 July 1976: Israelis rescue Entebbe hostages (BBC) • BBC: 30th anniversary of the raid on Entebbe • BBC Age of Terror - Episode 1: Terror International

See also
• List of hostage crises • Operation Opera, an Israeli Air Force raid on Iraq. • Operation Wooden Leg, the Israeli Air Force raid on Tunisia.

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