Rememebering the Entebbe Raid

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On July 1, 1976, Shomron was ready with an operational plan which he presented to the Defense Minister. The following day the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister reviewed a full-scale dress rehearsal of the operation. The impossible proved to be possible. The Prime Minister gave a green-light to the operation, and Shomron selected 200 of the best from Sayeret Matkal (Israel’s top reconnaissance unit) and other elite units.

Four Hercules C-130 transport planes were chosen for the operation which commenced late July 3/early July 4th.  While the four IDF planes were in the air Prime Minister Rabin revealed the rescue plan to the cabinet.  Quick approval by the cabinet assured the continuance of the mission. The lead C-130 held Yoni Netanyahu and 29 other commandos, in addition to a Black Mercedes – a replica of Idi Amin’s car – and two Land Rovers.  Flying low, to avoid radar detection, the four C-130’s crossed Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya.  Netanyahu’s C-130 was the first to land in Entebbe – in total darkness – leading the way for the other three.

Netanyahu and the Israeli commandos burst into the terminal and quickly eliminated the terrorists, caught totally by surprise.  However, in an exchange of fire that killed all of the terrorists, three Israeli hostages were also killed.  An elderly Israeli hostage who had taken ill was taken to the hospital in Kampala and deliberately murdered on orders of Idi Amin. Commandos from the second and third C-130 destroyed 11 Ugandan MIG-17 fighter planes parked in the airport to prevent pursuit.  The remaining hostages were quickly freed, loaded onto the C-130’s and flown to Kenya.

Sadly, a Ugandan sentry from the control tower shot Yoni Netanyahu as they withdrew to the C-130’s with the hostages.  Israeli commandos returned fire and killed 47 Ugandan soldiers around the airport.  The incredible success of the mission was however marred by the mortal wounds sustained by Yoni Netanyahu and his subsequent death.

Nevertheless, the mission was a great mood-changer in Israel.  The vulnerability felt by Israelis as a result of the Yom Kippur war losses, gave way to feelings of tremendous pride and security with the realization that Jews would no longer be victimized with impunity. The Nazi-like selection of Jewish hostages brought back memories of the horrors of the Holocaust germinated into a deep sense of psychological satisfaction that, in some measure, the Jews had triumphed over the Nazis.

And then, capping off this mood-changing July 1976, Rina Mor, Miss Israel, was crowned Miss Universe.

In retrospect, 35-years later, Operation Yoni, named after the fallen hero of the Entebbe raid, was a most daring and glorious moment in Israel’s history.

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  • ORPO1

    I was serving aboard USS Independence CV-62 in the Norfolk Naval Ship Yard. I was in the duty section so no fireworks except for the news of this operation. I was almost 22 at the time.

  • Raymond in DC

    With all due respect to the US attack on Bin Laden's compound by our Navy Seals, the Entebbe operation still sets the standard for boldness. The operation – developed only over days, requiring the accumulation of current intelligence, training and all the rest, then carried out over long distance – still inspires. It proved a major setback to Baader-Meinhof, leading to their defeat a few years later.

    In a generally unknown epilogue to the operation, Israeli operatives subsequently returned to Uganda to "repo" Amin's Israeli-made executive jet.

    ORPO1 tells of serving on the Independence when he received the news. Me, I was in Washington marking the Bicentennial but only learned of the rescue from a newspaper box near the mall.

  • EW-SW070476

    My experience regarding the Entebbe Raid ("MIvza Yonatan") started on Sunday morning, July 4th (I was living in the UK, then): planning to arrive at my synagogue at 08:30, I'd set my radio alarm for 08:00. However, the clock was running 3 minutes late, so I woke up to the radio news broadcast finishing with the words " .. and are back safely in Israel."
    'Who are back safely in Israel?' I asked myself. I arrived at the synagogue at 08:20 – and asked around; none of my fellow-congregants knew – they hadn't heard the news at all.
    I arrived home at 09:02 – immediately switched on the news – but no mention at all of the raid. I had to leave the house prior to ten am; did not have access to a radio all morning, and returned home at 1:10 pm – again too late for the news.
    I finally heard the news at 5pm. In a state of amazing euphoria, I went to a fare-well party: a friend was emigrating to Israel. During the party I met a girl – who is now my wife (we've been married 34 years, having met 35 years ago – on July 4th!!)

    • GKC

      Hopefully you gentlemen will continue to contribute your perspective. Thanks.

  • Atikva

    Am Israel Hai!

  • tagalog


  • UCSPanther

    Idi Amin's tantrum when he found out that his men were defeated by the IDF commandos was something to behold.

  • findalis

    On that day the Israelis stole the frosting off of the US's birthday cake and reminded the world of the true nature of FREEDOM

  • alexander

    "Entebbe raid, was a most daring and glorious moment in Israel’s history" …….? – I think it was a most daring raid in the world's history. Bravo Israel!!! Chapeau bas!!!

    • Julie Davis

      Yes! In all history. I watch the movie made about the raid every time it airs on TV.
      I live in California, but given a choice, I would live and study in Isreal. I really enjoyed
      finding out Amins custom plane was later taken.
      Julie Davis

  • Supreme_Galooty

    Indeed, this spectacular success gave Jimmy, The Georgia Pimple the vague notion that he could be as effective some few years later – much to his chagrin and the discomfiture of many Americans. As for Isreal, it thrives in a world where it is surrounded by millions whose lives are consumed by hatred – hatred not just of Jews and Isreal, but hatred of all that is life giving.

    "We are a generation of settlers, and without the steel helmet and gun barrel, we shall not be able to plant a tree or build a house." – Moshe Dayan

  • Michael Shaw

    Kurt Waldhiem, then U.N. Secretary General, condemned the Israeli raid on Entebbe which is not surprising coming from a Sturmabteilung (a.k.a. "brown shirts') Nazi Party member.

  • Sara Guter-Davidson

    I was there with my husband and our 2 sons. Our country saved our lives and instead of 4 people who were sentenced to death by terrorists – we are now 13 happy people in Israel.
    There are some incorrect facts in the article – but the main thing is that the platform of this operation is so BIG that all the hundreds soldiers, security forces, civilians and on the top of all our Government with Yitzhak Rabin as the Prime Minister – all can stand proudly on it and say: YES WE DID IT!

    • Julie Davis

      I am so happy you made it out alive. I am an American, but I have always wanted to
      know more about Isreal and it's faith. I don't know where to begin, but I do know the
      values held by your people are above and beyond those of most other countries.
      If I win the lottery before I die, your county is the first I would visit. I have so much
      respect for you courage and your determination in spite of all you've been through.
      Thank you for sharing your story. Julie Davis

  • eejay

    I seriously doubt the Summer Olympics were "riveting the attention of the world" on July 4, since they didn't even open until July 20, 1976.