LONDON (Jul. 11)
The British High Commissioner in Uganda, James Hennessy, was on his way back to London tonight after relaying a reply from Ugandan authorities on the fate of Mrs. Dora Bloch which the Foreign Office described as “totally unacceptable.” Hennessy, who was on leave in Britain, was dispatched on an urgent mission to Kampala last Thursday to ascertain the whereabouts of the 75-year-old widow who holds British and Israeli citizenship. She is the only one of the Air France hijack hostages who remains unaccounted for.
Hennessy reported by telephone earlier that the Ugandan government claimed it did not know where Mrs. Bloch was. “I do not know if she is dead or alive. The Ugandans say she is the Israelis’ responsibility,” Hennessy said. He said he was trying to seek assurance from Ugandan President Idi Amin but was told the President was not available.
Mrs. Bloch was not among the hostages rescued by the Israeli army at Entebbe airport July 3. She had been taken to Mulagao Hospital in Kampala earlier after becoming ill and was last seen there by a British official on July 4. According to unconfirmed reports, she was kidnapped from the hospital by Ugandan agents after the Israeli rescue. Since then the Ugandan authorities have refused to cooperate in tracing her and have provided little useful information.
RAP CONDOLENCE MESSAGE TO AMIN
The Foreign Office said today that Hennessy was not being recalled from Uganda officially at this time. Such a gesture would be a diplomatic expression of displeasure by the British government. Displeasure of another sort was expressed by members of Parliament today over Foreign Secretary Anthony Crosland’s message of condolence to Amin for the Ugandan soldiers killed during the Israeli rescue raid.
Dr. Rhodes Boyson, a Conservative MP, said “It is getting to the point where one is ashamed to have a British passport.” Britain has sent no direct message to Israel either of congratulations for the rescue or condolence for the four Israelis who died as a result of the operation.
A Foreign Office spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the expression of condolence was not a separate message to Amin but was contained at the end of a letter from the British High Commissioner in Kampala dealing with another matter. The matter, presumably, was the fate of Mrs. Bloch. The spokesman said the British Embassy in Tel Aviv had issued a statement expressing pleasure over the rescue and extending condolences for the Israelis who died.
Concern over Mrs. Bloch’s fate has not exhausted the enthusiasm over the Israeli rescue which continued to run high here a week after the event. The Embassy reported over the weekend that it has received more than 2,000 messages of congratulations, a volume reminiscent of the Six-Day War. Jewish funds have been swollen by spontaneous donations. Last Friday the Embassy received 80,000 Pounds from two Jewish businessman.
One of the messages received was from the American actor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.; known for his swashbuckling roles. It said: “Congratulations on your mission of mercy. It was more spectacular than any film I have ever made.”