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Operation Entebbe

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Title: Operation Entebbe  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Yonatan Netanyahu, Arab–Israeli conflict, History of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Revolutionary Cells (German group)
Collection: 1976 in Uganda, Air France Accidents and Incidents, Airborne Operations, Aircraft Hijackings, Arab–israeli Conflict, Aviation Accidents and Incidents in 1976, Aviation Accidents and Incidents in Uganda, Aviation Accidents and Incidents Involving State Leaders, Conflicts in 1976, Counter-Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism in Israel, Hostage Rescue Operations, Idi Amin, Israel Defense Forces, Israeli–palestinian Conflict, Military Raids, Mossad Operations, Operation Entebbe, Operations Involving Israeli Special Forces, Palestinian Terrorist Incidents in Europe, Revolutionary Cells (Rz), Terrorist Attacks Attributed to Palestinian Militant Groups
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Operation Entebbe

Operation Entebbe
Part of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict

The old terminal building of the Entebbe International Airport as it appeared in 2008
Date 4 July 1976
Location Entebbe Airport, Uganda

Mission successful:

  • 102 of 106 hostages rescued.[1]
Commanders and leaders
c.100 commandos,
plus air crew and support personnel.
7 hijackers.
+100 Ugandan soldiers.
Casualties and losses
1 killed
5 wounded

7 killed

45 killed[2]
11–30 aircraft destroyed[3]
3 hostages killed[4][5]
10 hostages wounded

Operation Entebbe was a

  • Live or Die in Entebbe Trailer
  • Thunderbolt Video on YouTube, video by National Geographic, 4 min.
  • Raid on Entebbe on YouTube video and digitised re-enactment, 9 min.
  • Operation Thunderbolt – part 1 on YouTube video documentary – detailed, 9 min. part 2 on YouTube 10 min.
  • The Greatest Hostage Rescue in History : Documentary on The Entebbe Raid . on YouTube documentary – detailed, 44 min.
  • Entebbe: Turning Point of Terrorism in Strategy and Tactics, No. 232, January/February 2006.
  • – The Israeli Special Forces Database
  • [2] – The incredible life of Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu, the raid's commanding soldier
  • 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
  • Operation Entebbe protocols Ynetnews 5 November 2010. transcripts of Israeli Cabinet discussions

External links

  • Blumenau, Bernhard (2014). "2, 'The German silence’: the Entebbe hijacking of 1976". The United Nations and Terrorism. Germany, Multilateralism, and Antiterrorism Efforts in the 1970s. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 59–73.  
  • Betser, Muki; Robert Rosenberg (1996). Secret Soldier. Sydney: Simon & Schuster.  
  • Dunstan, Simon (2009). Israel's Lighting Strike, The raid on Entebbe 1976.  
  • Netanyahu, Ido; Netanyahu, ʻIdo; Netanyahu, Iddo; Hazony, Yoram (2003). Entebbe: the Jonathan Netanyahu story: a defining moment in the war on terrorism. Green Forest, AR: Balfour Books.  
  • Netanyahu, Jonathan; Netanyahu, Binyamin; Netanyahu, Ido; Wouk, Herman. Self-Portrait of a Hero: From the Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu, 1963–1976. Warner Books Inc.  

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c McRaven, Bill. "Tactical Combat Casualty Care – November 2010". MHS US Department of Defense. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Entebbe: The Most Daring Raid of Israel's Special Forces, The Rosen Publishing Group, 2011, by Simon Dunstan, page 58
  3. ^ a b Brzoska, Michael; Pearson, Frederic S. Arms and Warfare: Escalation, De-escalation, and Negotiation, Univ. of S. Carolina Press (1994) p. 203
  4. ^ a b Encyclopedia Britannica: Entebbe raid
  5. ^ a b 1976: Israelis rescue Entebbe hostages
  6. ^ a b Smith, Terence (4 July 1976). "HOSTAGES FREED AS ISRAELIS RAID UGANDA AIRPORT; Commandos in 3 Planes Rescue 105-Casualties Unknown Israelis Raid Uganda Airport And Free Hijackers' Hostages". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Yossi Melman (8 July 2011). "Setting the record straight: Entebbe was not Auschwitz". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Hijacking of Air France Airbus by Followers of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - Israeli Action to liberate Hostages held at Entebbe Airport ..." (PDF). Keesing's Record of World Events 22: 27888. August 1976. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Freed Hostages Tell Their Story". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2 July 1976. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Simon Dunstan (15 January 2011). Entebbe: The Most Daring Raid of Israel's Special Forces. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 20–24.  
  11. ^ a b Mark Ensalaco (2008). Middle Eastern Terrorism: From Black September to September 11. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 96–.  
  12. ^ "Entebbe; Thirty Years On; miracle on the runway". Jewish Telegraph. 2006. Retrieved 20 June 2011. 
  13. ^ Sol Scharfstein (1 May 1994). Understanding Israel. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. pp. 118–.  
  14. ^  
  15. ^ a b "Mossad took photos, Entebbe Operation was on its way.".  
  16. ^ a b c d Feldinger, Lauren Gelfond. "Back to Entebbe".  
  17. ^ Ulrich Beyerlin: Abhandlungen: Die israelische Befreiungsaktion von Entebbe in völkerrechtlicher Sicht. (PDF-Datei; 2,3 MB) auf: Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht, 1977.
  18. ^ a b "Operation Entebbe". The Knesset at Sixty. Retrieved 4 July 2009. 
  19. ^ a b c d Aviv Lavie (31 July 2003). "Surviving the myth". Haaretz. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  20. ^ "How the Rescue Took Place". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 5 July 1976. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f Hamilton, Fiona (27 February 2008). "General Dan Shomron—Times Online Obituary". The Times (London). Retrieved 4 July 2009. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f g Ben, Eyal (3 July 2006). "Special: Entebbe's unsung hero.". Ynetnews. Retrieved 4 July 2009. 
  23. ^ "Entebbe Thirty Years On: Mancunian On Board". Jewish Telegraph. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  24. ^ "1976: Israelis rescue Entebbe hostages". BBC News. 4 July 1976. Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  25. ^ Dunstan, Simon (2011). Entebbe: The Most Daring Raid of Israel's Special Forces. New York: Rosen. pp. 17–18. 
  26. ^ "Detailed Story Of Dramatic Israeli Raid". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 13 July 1976. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  27. ^ "1976 Operation Entebbe". IDF blog. Israeli Defense Forces. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  28. ^ a b Yehuda Ofer (1976). Operation Thunder: The Entebbe Raid. The Israeli's Own Story. Penguin. pp. 46–47.  
  29. ^ Moufflet, Claude (1976). Otages à Kampala (in French). Presses de la Cité. p. 82. 
  30. ^ a b c "La aventura del secuestro de Entebbe, contada por una protagonista". El País (in Spanish). 11 July 1976. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  31. ^ Jerozolimski, Ana (13 July 2006). "Ada Lazarovitz (46), que hace 30 años fuera una de las rehenes en el avión de Air France secuestrado por terroristas en Entebbe, recuerda su liberación.". Espacio Latino (in Spanish). Semanario Hebreo. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  32. ^ a b Goldberg, Michel (1984). Namesake. Corgi. p. 122. 
  33. ^ Tinnin, David (8 August 1977). "Time". p. 2. Archived from the original on 18 October 2010.  — A review of Hitler's children by Julian Becker,; Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The 70s the Decade That Brought You Modern Life -- For Better or Worse. Basic Books. p. 342.  
  34. ^ Ross, Philip (2 August 1976). "The Illustrated Story of the Great Israeli Rescue". New York Magazine. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  35. ^ "Almogs Retell Hijack Tale". Heritage Florida Jewish News. 10 September 1976. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  36. ^ Eetta Prince-Gibson, Eetta (7 March 2013). "Entebbe’s Forgotten Dead". Tablet. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  37. ^ "The Entebbe Rescue Mission". Israel Defense Forces. Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 4 July 2009. 
  38. ^ "Vindication for the Israelis." Time. 26 July 1976.
  39. ^ "War of Words over a Tense Border." Time. 26 July 1976.
  40. ^ "Conversation between Henry Kissinger and Israeli Ambassador Simch Dinitz, 30 June 1976" (PDF). Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  41. ^ Grimes, Paul. "Rescuing the Entebbe Hostages." The New York Times. Friday, 30 July 1976. (The Weekend, p. 51).
  42. ^ Lipkin-Shakhak, Tali. "The Forgotten Hero of Entebbe". Historama. 16 June 2006.
  43. ^ Terence, Smith (4 July 1976). "Hostages Freed as Israelis Raid Uganda Airport". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  44. ^ a b c "Israel Defense Forces – Entebbe Diary". 
  45. ^ "Herman Eilts (US Ambassador to Egypt) to Secretary of State, 6 July 1976". Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  46. ^ "Herman Eilts (US Ambassador to Egypt) to Secretary of State, 9 July 1976". Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  47. ^ Chabalier, Hervé (12 July 1976). "Israël: le prix d'un exploit" (PDF). Le Nouvel Observateur (in French): 25. 
  48. ^ Williams, Louis (2000). The Israel Defense Forces: A People's Army. iUniverse. p. 131.  
  49. ^ Dunstan, Simon (2011). Entebbe: The Most Daring Raid of Israel's Special Forces. Rosen Publishing Group. p. 53.  
  50. ^ a b c Melman, Yossi. "A history of cooperation between Israel and Kenya". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  51. ^ Ephraim Kahana (2006). Historical Dictionary of Israeli Intelligence. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  52. ^ "Ugandan agents killed former Cabinet minister, says dossier". Standard Digital News. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  53. ^ Entebbe: The Most Daring Raid of Israel's Special Forces – Simon Dunstan. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  54. ^ "The Rescue: 'We Do the Impossible'.". Time. 12 July 1976. Retrieved 26 July 2009. 
  55. ^ "Wars and Operations: Operation Thunderball ("Entebbe")" (in Hebrew).  
  56. ^ a b "Israel marks 30th anniversary of Entebbe." Associated Press in USA Today. 5 July 2006.
  57. ^ "Operation Entebbe," The Knesset,
  58. ^ Stevenson, William (1976). Ninety Minutes at Entebbe. New York: Bantam Books. p. 100.  
  59. ^ a b "Remembering Entebbe,Larry Domnitch". The Jewish Press. 1 July 2009. Archived from the original on 23 March 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2009. 
  60. ^ David E. Kaplan (27 December 2012). "A historic hostage-taking revisited". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  61. ^ "Remembering Entebbe". Jerusalem Diaries. 3 July 2001. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  62. ^ Cawthorne, Nigel (2011). Warrior Elite: 31 Heroic Special-Ops Missions from the Raid on Son Tay to the Killing of Osama Bin Laden. Ulysses Press. p. 57.  
  63. ^ Operation Thunderball (Film Documentary)
  64. ^ Dunstan, Simon (2011). Entebbe: The Most Daring Raid of Israel's Special Forces. Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 51–53.  
  65. ^ "1976: Israelis rescue Entebbe hostages". BBC News. 4 July 1976. Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  66. ^ a b Verkaik, Robert (13 February 2007). "Revealed: the fate of Idi Amin's hijack victim—Crime, UK—The Independent". The Independent (London). Retrieved 4 July 2009. 
  67. ^ Verkaik, Robert (13 February 2007). "Revealed: the fate of Idi Amin's hijack victim". The Independent (London). 
  68. ^ "1976: British grandmother missing in Uganda". BBC News. 7 July 1976. Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  69. ^ "Body of Amin Victim Is Flown Back to Israel". The New York Times. 4 June 1979, Monday, p. A3.
  70. ^ "1976: Israelis rescue Entebbe hostages". BBC – On this day. 4 July 2008. Retrieved 26 July 2009. 
  71. ^ a b c d Security Council, Official Records, 1939th meeting, 9 July 1976, S/PV.1939.
  72. ^ Security Council . United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America: draft resolution. Document S/12138, 12 July 1976.
  73. ^ a b Security Council, Official Records, 1943th meeting, 14 July 1976, S/PV.1943, p18.
  74. ^ Security Council. Benin, Libyan Arab Republic and United Republic of Tanzania: draft resolution. Document S/12139, 12 July 1976.
  75. ^ "Age of Terror: Episode one". BBC News. 16 April 2008. 
  76. ^ "עכשיו, במבצע – תרבות ובידור". Ynet. 20 June 1995. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  77. ^ "מבצע אנטבה". Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  78. ^ "Conversation between Kissinger and Dinitz, 5 July 1976" (PDF). Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  79. ^| USS Ranger Bicentennial Cruise Book
  80. ^ "Entebbe Postscript", Flight International, 17 July 1976, p. 122. Retrieved from Flightglobal Archive
  81. ^ Air et cosmos, Issues 618–634, Impr. Reaumur., 1976, p.48 (in French)
  82. ^ "Michel Bacos: the Air France hero of Entebbe". The Jewish Chronicle. 15 June 2012. 
  83. ^ "Je dois ma vie à Tsahal". Hamodia (in French). 11 June 2011. 
  84. ^ Wahome, Patrick Mutahi. "War on terror or war on human rights? Implications of the "war on terror" for human rights in Kenya." (PDF). Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  85. ^ Kiruga, Morris (15 September 2013). "20 killed in bomb attack on Norfolk". Daily Nation. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  86. ^ Sharon Roffe-Ofir "Entebbe's open wound" Ynet, 7 February 2006
  87. ^ Josh Hamerman "Battling against 'the falsification of history'" Ynet News, 4 February 2007
  88. ^ Dershowitz, Alan M. Preemption: A Knife that Cuts both Ways, W. W. Norton (2006) p. 91
  89. ^ Houghton, David Patrick. U.S. Foreign Policy and the Iran Hostage Crisis, Cambridge Univ. Press (2001) pp. 86–87
  90. ^ Nalty, Bernard C. (November 2003). Winged Shield, Winged Sword 1950–1997: A History of the United States Air Force. University Press of the Pacific.  
  91. ^ In 1976 letter, Iran hailed Entebbe rescue, mourned death of Yoni Netanyahu
  92. ^ Candia, Steven (14 August 2012). "Uganda, Israel honor 1976 Entebbe raid". New Vision. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  93. ^ McFadden, Robert. "6 Film Studios Vie Over Entebbe Raid." The New York Times. 26 July 1976.
  94. ^ St. Louis International Film Festival IMDb
  95. ^ "Cohen on the Bridge: Rescue at Entebbe". 2010 Palm Springs Int'l ShortFest. 13 June 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  96. ^ "Cohen on the Bridge: The Entebbe Rescue". Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  97. ^
  98. ^ "Operation Entebbe – 'Live or Die in Entebbe' Trailer". YouTube. 3 December 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  99. ^ Black OPS Season 1, Ep. 5 "Operation Thunderbolt"
  100. ^ Asaf Romirowsky (6 July 2011). "The Entebbe Raid, 35 Years Later". The National Review. Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  101. ^ Cohen, Peter-Adrian. " presents A WORLD PREMIERE from an Israeli Perspective". Retrieved 5 July 2009. 
  102. ^ "Untitled Theater Co #61's Fest of Jewish Theater & Ideas Runs". 20 May 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2009. 


  1. ^ Sources state varying numbers of passengers, between 228 and 246; the higher figure used is from the New York Times.
  2. ^ Claims by various authors that the separation was made between Jews and non-Jews[27] are in conflict with all available eyewitness accounts[9][28][29][30][31] and were later expressly disclaimed as a "myth" or a manipulation by "sensation-hungry journalists and film-makers" by several former hostages.[7][19][32]
  3. ^ Now confidential cabinet papers released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the British High Commission in Kampala received a report from a Ugandan civilian that Mrs Bloch had been shot and her body dumped in the boot of a car which had Ugandan intelligence services number plates.[66]


See also


Other media

  • The Delta Force (1986) which featured a hostage rescue operation inspired by Operation Entebbe[100]
  • Zameen (2003) is a Bollywood movie named starring Ajay Devgun and Abhishekh Bachchan who draw a plan to rescue hostages of an Indian airliner hijacked by Pakistani militants on the basis of Operation Entebbe.

Films inspired by Operation Entebbe


  • Operation Thunderbolt: Entebbe is a documentary about the hijacking of Air France Flight AF139 and subsequent rescue mission is featured in the documentary .[93] Below follows a complete list of films on the subject:
  • Cohen on the Bridge (2010) is a documentary by director Andrew Wainrib, who gained unprecedented access to the surviving commandos and hostages. An animated short of the documentary won the St. Louis International Film Festival's Festival Prize,[94] was an Award Winner at the Palm Springs Short Fest[95] and played many festivals in 2010 including Big Sky, and Santa Barbara International. The feature-length documentary was slated for release in 2011, the 35th anniversary of Operation Entebbe.[96]
  • Live or Die in Entebbe (2012) by director Eyal Boers also focuses on the operation; the film follows Yonatan Khayat's journey to uncover the circumstances of his uncle Jean-Jacques Maimoni's death in the raid.[97][98]
  • "Assault on Entebbe", an episode of the National Geographic Channel documentary Situation Critical
  • Rise and Fall of Idi Amin (1980)
  • Operation Thunderbolt, the fifth episode in the 2012 Military Channel documentary series Black Ops[99]
  • Rescue at Entebbe, Episode 12 of 2005 documentary series Against All Odds: Israel Survives by Michael Greenspan.


The incident has been the subject of several films. Two were US productions with American/British casts, and a third was produced in Israel with mostly Israeli actors in key roles. Various other films have been inspired by the event.

Dramatisations and documentaries

In August 2012, Uganda and Israel commemorated the raid at a sombre ceremony at the base of a tower at the Old Entebbe Airport, where Yonatan Netanyahu was killed. Uganda and Israel renewed their commitment in the fight against terrorism and to work towards humanity. In addition, wreaths were laid, a moment of silence was held, speeches were given, and a poem was recited. The flags of Uganda and Israel waved side by side, demonstrating the two countries' strong bilateral relations, next to a plaque with a history of the raid. The ceremony was attended by Ugandan State Minister for Animal Industry Bright Rwamirama and the deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel Daniel Ayalon, who laid wreaths at the site.[92]


In a letter dated July 13, 1976, the Supreme Commander's Staff of the Imperial Iranian Armed Forces praised the Israeli commandos for the mission and extended condolences for "the loss and martyrdom" of Netanyahu.[91]

As a result of the operation, the United States military developed highly trained rescue teams modelled on the Entebbe rescue.[88] One notable attempt to imitate it was Operation Eagle Claw, a failed rescue of 53 American embassy personnel held hostage in Tehran during the Iran hostage crisis.[89][90]

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 that caused Yonatan's death and partial loss of tactical surprise.[86][87]

The Norfolk hotel in Nairobi, owned by a prominent member of the local Jewish community, was bombed on 31 December 1980. 13 people of several nationalities were killed and 87 more were wounded, in what was believed to be an act of revenge by pro-Palestinian militants for Kenya's supporting role in the Entebbe raid.[84][85]

Captain Bacos was awarded the Legion of Honour, and the other crew members were awarded the French Order of Merit.[80][81][82][83]

Western nations spoke in support of the raid. West Germany called the raid "an act of self-defence." Switzerland and France praised the operation. Representatives of the United Kingdom and United States offered significant praise, calling the Entebbe raid "an impossible operation." Some in the United States noted that the hostages were freed on 4 July 1976, 200 years after the signing of the US declaration of independence.[75][76][77] In private conversation with Israeli Ambassador Dinitz, Henry Kissinger sounded criticism for Israeli use of US equipment during the operation, but that criticism was not made public.[78] In mid-July 1976, the supercarrier USS Ranger (CV-61) embarked, and her escorts entered the Indian Ocean and operated off the Kenyan coast in response to a threat of military action by forces from Uganda.[79]

The [71] The Council allowed Chaim Herzog of Israel and Juma Oris Abdalla of Uganda to participate without voting rights.[71] UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim told the Security Council that the raid was "a serious violation of the sovereignty of a Member State of the United Nations" though he was "fully aware that this is not the only element involved...when the world community is now required to deal with unprecedented problems arising from international terrorism."[71] The representative of Uganda alleged that the affair was close to a peaceful resolution when Israel intervened, while the representative of Israel accused Uganda of direct complicity in the hijacking.[71] The USA and UK sponsored a resolution which condemned hijacking and similar acts, deplored the loss of life arising from the hijacking (without condemning either Israel or Uganda), reaffirmed the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States, and called on the international community to enhance the safety of civil aviation.[72] However the resolution failed to receive the required number of affirmative votes due to 2 abstentions and 7 absences.[73] A second resolution sponsored by Benin, Libya and Tanzania, that condemned Israel, was not put to the vote.[73][74]


Dora Bloch, a 75-year-old Israeli who also held British citizenship, had been released by the hijackers due to illness and taken to Mulago Hospital in Kampala. After the raid she was killed by officers of the Ugandan army, as were some of her doctors and nurses, apparently for trying to intervene.[22][nb 3][67] 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 killed by two army officers on Amin's orders.[68] Bloch was shot and her body dumped in the trunk of a car that had Ugandan intelligence services number plates. Her remains were recovered near a sugar plantation 20 miles (32 km) east of Kampala in 1979,[69] after the Ugandan–Tanzanian War ended Amin's rule.[66] Amin also ordered the killing of hundreds of Kenyans living in Uganda in retaliation for Kenya's assistance to Israel in the raid.[70]

Members of family pay last respects to Dora Bloch, 75, after she was murdered by officers of the Ugandan army

Ugandan reaction

After the raid, the Israeli assault team returned to their aircraft and began loading the hostages. Ugandan soldiers shot at them in the process. The Israeli commandos returned fire with their AK47s, inflicting casualties on the Ugandans. During this brief but intense firefight, Ugandan soldiers fired from the Airport control tower. Israeli commander Yonatan Netanyahu was shot in the chest and killed during combat with Ugandan soldiers.[1][63] He was the only Israeli commando killed in the operation.[21] At least five other commandos were wounded. Israeli commandos fired light machine guns and an RPG back at the control tower, suppressing the Ugandans' fire. The Israelis finished evacuating the hostages, loaded Netanyahu's body into one of the planes, and left Entebbe Airport.[64] The entire operation lasted 53 minutes—of which the assault lasted only 30 minutes. All seven hijackers present, and between 33 and 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed.[21] About 11 Ugandan Army Air Force MiG-17 fighter planes were destroyed on the ground at Entebbe Airport.[65] Out of the 106 hostages, three were killed, one was left in Uganda, and approximately 10 were wounded. The 102 rescued hostages were flown to Israel via Nairobi, Kenya, shortly after the raid.[18]

Rescued passengers welcomed at Ben Gurion Airport


At one point, an Israeli commando called out in Hebrew, "Where are the rest of them?" referring to the hijackers.[62] The hostages pointed to a connecting door of the airport's main hall, into which the commandos threw several hand grenades. Then, they entered the room and shot dead the three remaining hijackers, ending the assault.[21] Meanwhile, the other three C-130 Hercules had landed and unloaded armoured personnel carriers to provide defence during the anticipated hour of refuelling. The Israelis then destroyed Ugandan MiG fighter planes to prevent them from pursuing, and conducted a sweep of the airfield for intelligence-gathering.[21]

According to hostage Ilan Hartuv, Wilfried Böse was the only hijacker who, after the operation began, entered the hall housing the hostages. At first he pointed his Kalashnikov rifle at hostages, but "immediately came to his senses" and ordered them to find shelter in the restroom, before being killed by the commandos. According to Hartuv, Böse fired only at Israeli soldiers and not at hostages.[7]

The Israelis sprang from their vehicles and burst towards the terminal. The hostages were in the main hall of the airport building, directly adjacent to the runway. Entering the terminal, the commandos shouted through a megaphone, "Stay down! Stay down! We are Israeli soldiers," in both Hebrew and English. Jean-Jacques Maimoni, a 19-year-old French immigrant to Israel, stood up and was killed when Israeli company commander Muki Betzer and another soldier mistook him for a hijacker and fired at him.[22] Another hostage, Pasco Cohen, 52, the manager of an Israeli medical insurance fund, was also fatally wounded by gunfire from the commandos.[22][61] In addition, a third hostage, 56-year-old Ida Borochovitch, a Russian Jew who had emigrated to Israel, was killed in the crossfire.[22]

A C-130 Hercules in front of the old terminal in 1994. Bullet holes from the 1976 raid are still visible.

Hostage rescue

The Israeli forces landed at Entebbe on July 3, at 23:00 IST, with their cargo bay doors already open. A black Mercedes that looked like President Idi Amin's vehicle and Land Rovers that usually accompanied Amin's Mercedes were brought along. The Israelis hoped they could use them to bypass security checkpoints. When the C-130s landed, Israeli assault team members drove the vehicles to the terminal building in the same fashion as Amin.[16][59] As they approached the terminal, two Ugandan sentries, aware that Idi Amin had recently purchased a white Mercedes, ordered the vehicles to stop.[60] The commandos shot the sentries using silenced pistols, but did not kill them.[16] As they pulled away, however, an Israeli commando in one of the following Land Rovers killed them with an unsuppressed rifle.[16] Fearing the hijackers would be alerted prematurely, the assault team quickly approached the terminal.[59]

Two Boeing 707 jets followed the cargo planes. 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, which circled over Entebbe Airport during the raid.[44]

Taking off from Sharm al-Sheikh,[57] the task force flew down the international flight path over the Red Sea, mostly flying at a height of no more than 30 m (100 ft) to avoid radar detection by Egyptian, Sudanese, and Saudi Arabian forces. Near the south outlet of the Red Sea the C-130s turned south 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. They turned west, passing through the African Rift Valley and over Lake Victoria.[58]

Attack route

Aerial photo of the city of Entebbe and the Entebbe International Airport in sunset


The ground command and control element
This small group comprised the operation and overall ground commander, Brig. Gen Shomron, the air force representative Col. Ami Ayalon and the communications and support personnel.
The assault element
A 29-man assault unit led by Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, this force was composed entirely of commandos from Sayeret Matkal, and was given the primary task of assaulting the old terminal and rescuing the hostages. Major Betser led one of the element's assault teams, and took command after Lt. Col. Netanyahu was killed.
The securing element
  1. The Paratroopers force led by Col. Matan Vilnai – tasked with securing the civilian airport field, clearing and securing the runways, protection and fuelling of the Israeli aircraft in Entebbe.
  2. The Golani force led by Col. Uri Sagi – tasked with securing the C-130 Hercules aircraft for the hostages' evacuation, getting it as close as possible to the terminal and boarding the hostages; also as general reserves.
  3. The Sayeret Matkal force led by Major Shaul Mofaz – tasked with clearing the military airstrip, destroying the squadron of MiG fighter jets on the ground, to prevent any possible interceptions by the Ugandan Air Force; and holding off hostile ground forces from the city of Entebbe.

The Israeli ground task force numbered approximately 100 personnel, and comprised the following:[44]

Task force

Muki Betzer said in a later Associated Press interview that Mossad operatives extensively interviewed the hostages who had been released.[56] He said that a French-Jewish passenger who had a military background and "a phenomenal memory" provided detailed information about the number of weapons carried by the hostage-takers.[56] After Betzer collected intelligence and planned for several days, four Israeli Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft secretly flew to Entebbe Airport at midnight without being detected by Entebbe air traffic control.

Mossad built an accurate picture of the whereabouts of the hostages, the number of hijackers, and the involvement of Ugandan troops from the released hostages in Paris.[54] Additionally, Israeli firms were involved in building projects in Africa during the 1960s and 1970s and while preparing the raid the Israeli army consulted with Solel Boneh, a large Israeli construction company that had built the terminal where the hostages were held.[55] While planning the military operation the IDF erected a partial replica of the airport terminal with the help of civilians who had helped build the original.

Hostage intelligence

Kenyan Minister of Agriculture Bruce MacKenzie persuaded Kenyan President Kenyatta to permit Mossad to collect intelligence prior to the operation, and to allow the Israeli Air Force access to the Nairobi airport.[50] In retaliation, Ugandan President Idi Amin ordered Ugandan agents to assassinate MacKenzie. He was killed on 24 May 1978 when a bomb attached to his aircraft exploded.[50][51][52][53] Later, Mossad Chief Director Meir Amit had a forest planted in Israel in MacKenzie's name.[50]

The raid could not proceed without assistance from at least one East African government. The Jewish owner of the Block hotels chain in Kenya, along with other members of the Jewish and Israeli community in Nairobi, may have used their political and economic influence to help persuade Kenya's President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta to help Israel. The Israeli government finally secured permission from Kenya for the IDF task force to cross Kenyan airspace and refuel at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.[49]

While planning the raid, the Israeli forces had to figure out how to refuel the Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft they intended to use while en route to Entebbe. The Israelis lacked the logistical capacity to aerially refuel four to six aircraft so far from Israeli airspace. While several East African nations, including the logistically preferred choice Kenya, were sympathetic, none wished to incur the wrath of Amin or the Palestinians by allowing the Israelis to land their aircraft within their borders.

Aircraft refuelling

When Israeli authorities failed to negotiate a political solution, they decided the only option was an attack to rescue the hostages. Lt. Col. Joshua Shani, lead pilot of the operation, later said that the Israelis had initially conceived of a rescue plan that involved dropping naval commandos into Lake Victoria. The commandos would have ridden rubber boats to the airport located on the edge of the lake. They planned to kill the hijackers and after freeing the hostages, ask Amin for passage home. The Israelis abandoned this plan because they lacked the time necessary and also received word that Lake Victoria was infested with crocodiles.[48]

Raid preparation

As the crisis unfolded, attempts were made to negotiate the release of the hostages. According to declassified diplomatic documents, the Egyptian government under Sadat tried to negotiate with both the PLO and the Ugandan government.[45][46] PLO chairman Yasser Arafat sent his political aide Hani al-Hassan to Uganda as a special envoy to negotiate with the hostage takers and with Amin.[7] However, the PFLP-EO hijackers refused to see him.[47]

Attempts at a diplomatic solution

On 3 July, at 18:30, the Israeli cabinet approved the rescue mission,[43] presented by Major General Yekutiel "Kuti" Adam and Brig. Gen. Dan Shomron. Shomron was appointed as the operation commander.[44]

At the deadline (1 July),[41] the Seewoosagur Ramgoolam.[42] This extension of the hostage deadline proved crucial to providing Israeli forces enough time to get to Entebbe.[21]

In the week before the raid, Israel 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, trying to gain the release of the hostages, without success.[38][39] The Israeli government also approached the US government to deliver a message to Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, asking him to request Amin to release the hostages.[40]

Operational planning

On 30 June, the hijackers released 48 hostages picked from among the non-Israeli group – mainly elderly and sick passengers and mothers with children. 47 of them were flown out to Paris, one passenger was treated in hospital for a day. On 1 July, after the Israeli government had conveyed its agreement to negotiations, the hostage-takers extended their deadline to 4 July noon and released another group of 100 non-Israeli captives who again were flown out to Paris a few hours later. Among the 106 hostages staying behind with their captors at Entebbe airport were the 12 members of the Air France crew, about ten young French passengers, and the Israeli group of some 84 people.[1][6][22][37]

Releases of most non-Israeli hostages

On 29 June, after Ugandan soldiers had opened an entrance to a room next to the crowded waiting hall by destroying a separating wall, the hijackers separated the Israelis (including those holding dual citizenship) from the other hostages[nb 2] and told them to move to the adjoining room.[28] 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".[33] In addition, five non-Israeli hostages—two ultra-orthodox Jewish couples[19] from the US and Belgium[7] and a French resident in Israel—were forced to join the Israeli group.[30] According to Monique Epstein Khalepski, the French hostage among the five, the captors had singled them out for questioning and suspected them of hiding their Israeli identities.[30] On the other hand, according to French hostage Michel Cojot-Goldberg, the captors failed to identify at least one Israeli among the passengers who was a military officer with dual citizenship using his non-Israeli passport and was later freed as part of the second release of non-Israeli hostages.[32] US citizen Janet Almog, Frenchwoman Jocelyne Monier (whose husband or boyfriend were Israelis)[34][35] and French-Israeli dual citizen Jean-Jacques Mimouni, whose name had not been called up during the reading of the original passport-based list, reportedly joined the Israeli hostage group by their own choice.[36]

Separation of hostages into two groups

On 28 June, a PFLP-EO hijacker issued a declaration and formulated their demands: In addition to a ransom of $5 million USD for the release of the airplane, they demanded the release of 53 Palestinian and Pro-Palestinian militants, 40 of whom were prisoners in Israel.[25] They threatened that if these demands were not met, they would begin to kill hostages on 1 July 1976.[26]

At Entebbe, the four hijackers were joined by at least four others, supported by the forces of Uganda's President, Idi Amin.[24] The hijackers transferred the passengers to the transit hall of the disused former airport terminal where they kept them under guard for the following days. Amin came to visit the hostages almost on a daily basis, updating them on developments and promising his efforts in having them freed through negotiations.[19]

Hostage situation at Entebbe airport

On 27 June 1976, Air France Flight 139, an Airbus A300B4-203, registration F-BVGG (c/n 019), departed from Tel Aviv, Israel, carrying 246 mainly Jewish and Israeli passengers and a crew of 12.[19][20] An additional 58 passengers, including four hijackers, waited to board at Athens airport, heading for Paris.[21][nb 1] Soon after the 12:30 pm takeoff, the flight was hijacked by two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – External Operations (PFLP-EO), and by two Germans, Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann, from the German Revolutionary Cells. The hijackers diverted the flight to Benghazi, Libya.[22] There it was held on the ground for seven hours for refuelling. During that time the hijackers released British-born Israeli citizen Patricia Martell who pretended to have a miscarriage.[15][23] The plane left Benghazi, and at 3:15 pm on the 28th, more than 24 hours after the flight's original departure, it arrived at Entebbe Airport in Uganda.[22]

Air France Flight 139
Hijacking summary
Date 27 June 1976
Summary Hijacking
Site Greek airspace
Passengers 248
Crew 12
Injuries (non-fatal) 10
Fatalities 4
Survivors 256
Aircraft type Airbus A300B4-203
Operator Air France
Registration F-BVGG
Flight origin Ben Gurion Int'l Airport, Israel
Stopover Athens (Ellinikon) Int'l Airport, Greece
Destination Charles De Gaulle Int'l Airport, France



  • Hijacking 1
    • Hostage situation at Entebbe airport 1.1
    • Separation of hostages into two groups 1.2
    • Releases of most non-Israeli hostages 1.3
  • Operational planning 2
    • Attempts at a diplomatic solution 2.1
    • Raid preparation 2.2
      • Aircraft refuelling 2.2.1
      • Hostage intelligence 2.2.2
    • Task force 2.3
  • Raid 3
    • Attack route 3.1
    • Hostage rescue 3.2
    • Departure 3.3
    • Ugandan reaction 3.4
  • Aftermath 4
  • Commemorations 5
  • Dramatisations and documentaries 6
    • Documentaries 6.1
    • Dramatizations 6.2
    • Films inspired by Operation Entebbe 6.3
    • Other media 6.4
  • Gallery 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12

Operation Entebbe, which had the military codename Operation Thunderbolt, is sometimes referred to retroactively as Operation Jonathan in memory of the unit's leader, Yonatan Netanyahu. He was the older brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister of Israel.[18]

The operation took place at night. Israeli transport planes carried 100 commandos over 2,500 miles (4,000 km) to Uganda for the rescue operation. The operation, which took a week of planning, lasted 90 minutes. 102 hostages were rescued. Five Israeli commandos were wounded and one, the unit commander, Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, was killed. All the hijackers, three hostages and 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed, and thirty (some say 11[4][5]) Soviet-built MiG-17s and MiG-21s of Uganda's air force were destroyed.[3] Kenyan sources supported Israel, and in the aftermath of the operation Idi Amin issued orders to retaliate and slaughter several hundred Kenyans present in Uganda.[17]

The IDF acted on intelligence provided by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The hijackers threatened to kill the hostages if their prisoner release demands were not met. This threat led to the planning of the rescue operation.[15] These plans included preparation for armed resistance from Ugandan military troops.[16]

[14][13] Some 94 mainly Israeli passengers, along with the 12-member Air France crew, remained as hostages and were threatened with death.[12][11][10] Over the following two days, 148 non-Israeli hostages were released and flown out to Paris.[11][10][9] personally welcomed them. After moving all hostages from the airplane to a disused airport building, the hijackers separated all Israelis from the larger group and forced them into a separate room.Idi Amin, the main airport of Uganda. The local government supported the hijackers and dictator Entebbe to Benghazi via Athens, was diverted after a stopover in Paris with destination of Tel Aviv The flight, that had originated in [8]. The hijackers had the stated objective to free 40 Palestinian and pro-Palestinian militants imprisoned in Israel and 13 prisoners in four other countries in exchange for the hostages.Revolutionary Cells The PFLP-EO hijackers consisted of two Palestinians and two members of the German [7]

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