Terror on the Airline-Amani

Entebbe Rescue Operation, 1976

On June 27,1976, Air France flight 139 was hijacked by Arab terrorists. Air France flight 139 was traveling from Ben Gurion Airport to Paris via Athens. There were 246 passengers, and 83 of them were Israelis. However, when the plane left Athens only 70 Israelis remained on the plane, and it continued on its way. The terrorists were believe to board the plane at the Athens stop over and they were armed with guns and grenades. After leaving Athens it was reported that the plane lost contact with the control tower. Once aboard the hijackers ordered for the plane to divert to Benghazi, Libya for refeuling. It was then apparent to the government that the plane was hijacked when a Romania plane reported to the control tower that the plane was headed to Benghazi, Libya.

Once the plane arrived in Benghazi, Libya one hostage was released. She was a young pregnant woman whose name is unknown. While at Benghazi the plane received about thirty-four tons of fuel. This amount of fuel would allow the plane to travel for four to six hours. The plane then took off again to its destination of Entebbe, Uganda. The plane arrived in Entebbe, the nation's only international airport, on June 28, 1976 at the local time of 3:15. The hijackers who were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a branch of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), expected supportive reception from the pro-Palestinian Ugandan government lead by dictator Idi Amin. As a matter of fact the hijacking was a collaboration of PELP and Idi Amin and after arriving in Entebbe the hostage passengers were moved to the Old Terminal Building.

Th Old Terminal Building was guarded by Ugandan soldiers, local PFLP terrorist operatives (who joined on the groud in Uganda), and the hijacker themselves. There was contact between a team consisting of staff of the Prme Minister's Office and relevant authorities to make sure the Israeli passengers were not treated differently from the other hostages. The French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing even made a promise to the Israeli Embassy in Paris that Jewish and Israeli passengers would not be separated from non-Israeli citizens, he wanted them to all be released together.

As diplomatic efforts involing the French were readying for the release of hostages, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was already making main contingency plans and by June 29th they recieved a list of demands from terrorists. The list called for the release of fifty-three convicted terrorists held in Israel, France, Germany, Switzerland and Kenya; a second message was sent by the terrorists stating Thursday, July 1st as their deadline. Th terrorists threatened to explode the plane and its passengers if their demands were not fulilled.

Although, the French government wanted to ensure that the Israeli passengers were not treated differently from the other passengers, at Entebbe the Israeli passengrs were separated from the others. Forty-seven non-Israeli hostages were released on an Air France plane, but the pilot and his crew who remained loyal to all their passengers refused to leave. They refused to leave because they felt they should not leave unless they were leaving with all of their passengers. Eventually, the PFLP extended their deadline to July 4th due to negotiations between the terrorists and the IDF. While July 4th was approaching 101 more non-Israeli hostages were released leaving only a remaining number of 105 Israeli and Jewish passengers. The remaining passengers consisted of various ages of men, women, and children. The smaller group of people allowed for a rescue plan to be easier achieved.

Brig. General Dan Shomron was appointed to lead the operation on the ground and on Saturday, July 3rd the IDF combat units loaded their equipment and drove to a nearby airbase. After arriving at the airbase they set their rescue plan into action. The planes they would be using in the assualt on Entebbe were loaded and once the led plane arrived in Entebbe it took only three minutes for the attack on the Old terminal building to be completed. Within seven minutes the IDF evacuated the hostage passengers including wounded and dead Israelis from the Old Terminal Building to IDF planes; the last plane was airborne by 12:40am on July 4th. News of the IDF's defeat reached Israel before they did and on July 4, 1976 the country's citizens read a news paper headline saying: "A great weight is lifted from our hearts. With unprecedented daring and courage, the Israel Defense Forces liberated the Entebbe hostages, releasing Israel and the entire world from the nightmare of conceding to murderous extortionists."
Kampala Newspaper Reporting the Israeli Raid.

Sadly, one of the leaders of Operation Entebbe died and his name was Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu. He was the brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister. Also one of the passengers, seventy-five year old Mrs. Dora Bloch, was not rescued because she was taken to a hospital in Kampala and was subsequently murdered by orders of Idi Amin.

Yonatan Netanyahu, who led and died in Operation Entebbe.

Works Cited:

Levin, Lital. “Remembering the Hijack toEntebbe”. AirFranceFlight 139 Hijacked toEntebbe. 1 July 2010. < http://grendelreport.posterous.com/air-france-flight-139-hijacked-to-entebbe>
“EntebbeRaid (June 28, 1976)”. Online Encyclopedia of Significant People and Places in Global African History. Events ed. <http://www.blackpast.org/?q=gah/entebbe-raid-june-28-1976>
“Entebbe Rescue Operation, 1976”.Palestine Facts. <http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_1967to1991_entebbe.php>
The first resource was very informative and had an excellent picture of Yonatan Netanyahu. However it does not go into detail about the rescue operation itself atEntebbejust the events before and the events following. It was only used on the wiki for a picture and for information regarding the details leading up to the rescue operation.
The second resource was an online encyclopedia. It gave a short summary of the raid atEntebbeand a picture of a newspaper clipping aboutEntebbewas received from here.
The last resource was very informative about the small details and involved a lot of facts. It was only used to attain context information.