TEL AVIV (Jul. 6)
The general euphoria over the successful rescue operation in Uganda remained unabated today. But the nation also shared the grief of the families of the four Israelis who lost their lives as a result of the action to free the hostages at Entebbe Airport late Saturday night and early Sunday morning.
Two of the civilian victims–Ida Borowitz, 56, and Jean Jacques Maimoni, 19–were buried yesterday at Netanya and Bat Yam, their respective homes. The third civilian casualty, Pasco Cohen 45, of Hadera, died of his wounds at a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. It is not known when his remains will be returned to Israel.
Cohen, his wife and their two children, Zipora six, and Jacob, 12, were among the Israeli hostages on the hijacked Air France jet. During the rescue operation, Cohen became separated from his children. When he stood up to look for them he was hit in the back by a sniper’s bullet and fatally wounded. The rest of his family was unharmed.
MILITARY FUNERAL FOR OFFICER
A military funeral was held on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem today for Lt. Col. Jonathan Nethanyahu, the American-born Israeli soldier killed while leading the rescue assault party. Burial services were delayed one day to await the arrival of his parents and two brothers from the United States.
The 30-year-old former tank commander was the son of Prof. Ben-Zion Nethanyahu who teaches Judaic studies and Semitic languages at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. He was born in the U.S. and brought to Israel at the age of two. He had studied at Harvard and at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem while pursuing a successful career in the army that made him one of Israel’s youngest high-ranking commanders.
Col. Nethanyahu was wounded in the 1967 Six-Day War, fought in the Yom Kippur War and was decorated for his performance in a special unit that battled the Syrians on the Golan Heights where he commanded a tank unit. He was killed during the Entebbe operation by a bullet believed to have been fired by a Ugandan soldier from the airport control tower.
NEW CONFIDENCE AND RESPECT
While mourning the dead, Israelis appear to have gained new confidence and respect for themselves, their defense forces and their government as a result of the Uganda rescue. The skepticism and often cynical attitude that has prevailed toward politicians and the military in general since the Yom Kippur War seems to have vanished overnight. A notable example was the cancellation of a strike that had been called by railroad workers for Sunday morning. Suddenly, the labor dispute appeared petty compared to the brilliantly conceived and executed Uganda operation.
Similarly, work slowdowns protesting the unpopular value added tax (VAT) that went into effect July 1 were called off. Newspapers are carrying huge ads saluting the army and government. Many of the ads were placed by groups that until last week had been demanding new elections and a change of the regime.
National solidarity, in fact, seems to have reached a point equalled only in times of war. In the past two days, individuals and groups have donated millions of Pounds to the soldiers welfare fund. Workers who have been demanding more pay for fewer hours are willingly donating one or more days of their vacations for the benefit of Israeli soldiers.
Former Premier Golda Meir, who knows probably better than any other Israeli the anguish of decision-making in a time of crisis, paid a personal tribute yesterday to her successor, Premier Yitzhak Rabin who made the decision last weekend to rescue the hostages in Uganda. She sent him a wreath of red roses and a message of congratulations on the successful operation.
TIGHTER SECURITY URGED
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Gad Yaacobi said on a radio interview yesterday that he wanted legal power to tighten security measures at Israel’s airports so that they apply to all carriers, not only Israel’s airlines. A draft bill submitted to the Knesset last week would permit the government to penalize foreign carriers who did not comply with Israeli safety regulations anywhere along their routes between Israel and other countries. The Air France jet hijacked June 27 was seized by heavily armed terrorists who boarded undetected at Athens Airport. In the interim, Yaacobi asked all airlines serving Israel to discontinue intermediate stops.
DENY KENYA COLLABORATED
In Jerusalem yesterday, Israeli officials vigorously denied that Kenya had collaborated with Israel in any way in carrying out the rescue mission in neighboring Uganda. Some foreign press reports indicated that the Kenyan capital of Nairobi was swarming with Israeli agents during the week the hostages were being held. The Israeli rescue planes landed briefly at Nairobi on their way back to Israel.
That fact and the strained relations between Kenya and Uganda have lent some credence to reports that the Kenyans gave at least tacit support for the rescue. The Kenyan government, however, has flatly denied this. Kenya does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.
Security forces, meanwhile, have been alerted along Israel’s borders and inside the country and have taken precautionary measures against possible terrorist attempts to retaliate for the rescue of the hostages in Uganda, it was announced today. No details were given of the measures taken.