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Entebbe Operation


Israeli hostage rescue operation, code-named Kadur ha-Raʿam (Thunderbolt).

On 27 June 1976, two German nationals and two Palestinians boarded Air France Flight 139 en route from Tel Aviv to Paris during a stopover in Athens, and hijacked it first to Benghazi, Libya, then on to Entebbe Airport in Uganda. Following a plan masterminded by Dr. Wadi Haddad, renegade figure associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and Ilyich Sanchez Ramirez, which involved terrorists of varied affiliations (including the notorious "Carlos") the hijackers were there joined by a second team, the passengers divided into Jews and non-Jews, and the latter released. While feigning negotiation with the hijackers and with their host, President Idi Amin of Uganda, Israel made preparations for a military rescue mission. On the night of 3 July four Hercules transport jets carrying 150 Israeli commandos took off from Sharm al-Shaykh and flew 2,484 miles (4,000 km) to Entebbe, evading detection throughout. Accompanied by diversionary measures, the paratroopers stormed the terminal where the 101 hostages were kept, killing all eight captors and numerous Ugandan soldiers. The Israeli commander, Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu, and three hostages were killed during the operation, which lasted some forty-five minutes from landing to takeoff. (An elderly Jewish woman who had been hospitalized in Kampala and was not present during the rescue was later murdered.) The jets refueled at Nairobi and returned to a tumultuous welcome the following morning in Israel. Arab and African countries and the Communist bloc condemned the Israeli action, while in the West reaction was largely positive.

See also Haddad, Wadi; Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Sharm alShaykh.


Ben-Porat, Yeshayahu; Haber, Eitan; and Schiff, Zeev. Entebbe Rescue, translated by Louis Williams. New York: Dell, 1977.

zev maghen

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