Thursday, 2 July 2015

Mivtsa Yonatan: The Raid on Entebbe

Safe in Israel! Image Credit:
On 27 June 1976, an Air France airbus carrying 248 people, was hijacked and flown via Benghazi, Libya, to Entebbe in Uganda.

The terrorists responsible were from the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). PLFP and Fatah were the two largest groups of the PLO terror organization. They were joined by two members of Baader-Meinhof terror group, also known as Red Army Faction.

At Entebbe, the plane was met by more terrorists and Ugandan troops. The terrorists began to "separate" the Jews~Israelis from the main group of passengers, an act, that for many, brought back memories of the "selectzia" carried out by the Germans during the Holocaust. When the terrorists announced the plan to release all non-Jews, Captain Bacos spoke to his crew, and they decided to stay until all of their passengers were free. It should be noted that  Captain Michel Bacos was awarded a medal by the Israeli government, for refusing to leave his Jewish passengers behind.

As the remaining hostages were Jews~Israelis, to the world, it became an "Israeli" problem, and Israel, fearing a slaughter, realized they were on their own (nothing new). To the public, the Israeli government announced they would negotiate. While negotiations with the terrorists began, Israeli agents were busy gathering information as the IDF hatched a daring plan~they would fly a group of commandos over 2,500 miles (4,000 km) to Uganda and free the hostages. They only had a few days to rehearse what would become one of the most daring rescues ever pulled off. The timing had to be perfect with surprise being the key to success. Such was the concern for loss of life, the nine hour flight was more than half over before they received the final go ahead from the government.

From the time the rescue force landed, to the time the planes with the hostages took off, a mere fifty-three minutes had passed. All of the hijackers, three hostages and forty-five Ugandan soldiers were killed, while thirty of Uganda's Soviet-built MiG-17s and MiG-21s  were destroyed to prevent them from following the escaping planes. Dora Bloch, a 74-year-old grandmother, had been taken to Kampala hospital prior to the raid. It was later reported that the blood-thirsty dictator, Idi Amin was so enraged after the rescue that he had Mrs. Bloch dragged from her bed and shot. Only one member of the rescue team died, Lieutenant-Colonel Yonathan Netanyahu.

The Entebbe rescue, had the military codename Operation Thunderbolt, but was posthumously named "Mivtsa Yonathan" (Hebrew for Operation Yonatan) in memory of their leader, Yonatan Netanyahu (older brother of our current PM, Benjamin Netanayahu).

There have been many films on the operation, and each one has slight differences depending on who was telling the story. Be that as it may, the sheer awesomeness of the rescue can never be denied.

The first video below tells of the life and events leading up to Yoni Netanyahu's last day. The second film provides the basics of how the raid by Israel's finest was planned and carried out. The third film is the Hollywood version with Charles Bronson.

If you only have time to watch one, I strongly recommend the first. It follows Yoni from childhood to his final act of bravery for the country he loved. You will hear excerpts from his letters~Yoni was a prolific writer~and recollections from his family, friends, army comrades and commanders. Some of the film footage is from the personal archives of the Netanyahu family. The film gives a very personal view of an exceptional man, a Jew, an Israeli, a soldier, a poet, an intellectual, an idealist and a fighter. It provides Yoni's own thoughts and reflections on his life and loves, and Israel. Referred to by his troops as the Man of the Sword and the Book (Bible), he was truly one of a kind.

Yoni: The Hero of Entebbe~One of the Great Heroes of Israel!

Operation Thunderbolt (Mivtsa Yonatan)~How Israel Planned and Carried Out the Rescue

For Those Who Are Interested~The Hollywood Version With Charles Bronson...

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