Entebbe operation marked a significant blow to international terrorism that still resonates
On June 27, 1976, an Air France jet en route from Tel Aviv to Paris was hijacked by four terrorists after a stopover in Athens. The Airbus A300 aircraft was diverted to Libya where it was refueled and it later continued on to Entebbe Airport in Uganda.
In Entebbe, the hijackers were joined by a number of other terrorists. The terrorists were also supported by the forces of then-Ugandan President Idi Amin.
The hijackers demanded the release of 53 convicted terrorists.
The non-Jewish passengers and flight crew were freed. But the Air France crew, led by Captain Michel Bacos, refused to leave without the Jewish passengers.
Over the course of the next week, efforts were made to negotiate the release of the passengers. At the same time, IDF military planners began analyze the feasibility of carrying out a faraway rescue mission in the heart of central Africa.
On July 3, the Israeli cabinet, led by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, approved a daring rescue operation.
On the afternoon of July 3, four IAF C-130 Hercules aircraft as well as two Boeing 707 jets took off from Israel and headed south over the Red Sea. The rescue force consisted of approximately 100 IDF soldiers.
The IDF rescue force landed in Entebbe under the cover of darkness at around 23:00 local time. In an operation that lasted just under an hour, the IDF soldiers killed all the terrorists and freed the hostages.
Two hostages were killed in the crossfire. The IDF force suffered one fatality - Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, the commander of the assault unit, who was shot outside the terminal building during the battle against the terrorists and Ugandan soldiers.
The IDF rescue force and the freed hostages arrived back in Israel on July 4.
The operation marked a significant blow to international terrorism that still resonates today.