July 4, 1976 was one of the most memorable and happiest days of my life. It was one of those moments that you remember exactly what you were doing when your heard the news. I was sitting watching a tennis match at Wimbledon on the TV in the living room of my sister- and brother-in-law’s house in Maidenhead, England, when it was announced that the Israel/Jewish hostages had been rescued from Entebbe airport in Uganda. 94 hostages plus 13 crew were being held in the airport by a group of leftist terrorists, most of them German, who supported the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The terrorists had hijacked an Air France plane en route to Tel Aviv and with the support of Pres. Idi Amin Dada of Uganda had landed there and were holding the hostages in the airport building, and they were surrounded and protected by Ugandan Army soldiers. What was worse was that they separated the Jewish/Israeli passengers from all the others and let the others go, and they announced that they would start killing the hostages unless their demands, of releasing their comrades from prison, were met. It seemed impossible that the hostages could be rescued.
But, a daring and imaginative rescue mission was soon on its way in three transport planes flown secretly from Israel, that landed in nearby Kenya, with the agreement of that Government. One of the planes then flew on at night to Entebbe and landed undetected at the far end of the airport without lights. Then they rolled a black Mercedes car that looked exactly like that used by Pres. Amin out of the plane and drove directly up to the airport building with an escort of two cars. As soon as they arrived in front of the terminal the Israeli commandos jumped out and started shooting at the guards. The guards were taken by surprise and quickly overcome and the Israelis were soon inside the building and shot the terrorists. Unfortunately two of the hostages were also shot and an old lady who had been taken to hospital was later murdered. As they were leaving the leader of the mission Yonathan Netanyahu, the older brother of Bibi who is now Israel’s PM, was shot dead. He was the only Israeli commando killed.
To commemorate this amazing rescue mission, PM Netanyahu was in Entebbe today and laid a wreath at the airport. He is on a tour of four African countries, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia, the first such tour by an Israeli leader in 30 years. It is a sign of the growing good relations between Israel and the African countries. Kenya has been a good friend of Israel for many years, and especially now that it is engaged in a war against the Somali terrorist organization, Al Shabab that is affiliated with the Islamic State. These countries have a lot to fear from Muslim insurgents and in fact are sending their students to Israel to learn agricultural and other technology. This visit by Netanyahu marks a new beginning in the relationship of Israel with Africa.