Moving Reunion of Entebbe Participants

A moving reunion took place Wednesday between passengers of an Air France airliner forced in 1976 by Arab terrorists to land in Entebbe, Uganda and the Israeli team which rescued the passengers in an action that created a worldwide sensation. The reunion marked the tenth anniversary of the rescue.

The reunion, held in President Chaim Herzog’s official residence, was attended by Herzog, Knesset Speaker Shlomo Hillel, Meir Shamgar, President of the Supreme Court, Premier Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Chief of Staff Moshe Levy, a number of Cabinet Ministers, members of bereaved families and the passengers.

The Entebbe rescue has been formally named the Yonatan Operation, commemorating Yonatan Netanyah, one of the commanders of the rescue force, who was killed in the rescue.

‘A GREAT HOUR OF PRIDE’

Herzog said the rescue was the peak of Israel’s fight against terrorism and that it had given the people of Israel “a great hour of pride.” Herzog praised the government and the political opposition of 1976 for the unity its members demonstrated when the decision to try the hazardous rescue was made.

Herzog said that the word “Entebbe” had been transformed from its significance as Uganda’s Airport to “an operation which electrified the imagination of the world… honoring Israel’s name among the nations.”

Rabin in evaluating the daring and dangerous rescue, said that first and foremost was the capability of Israel’s Defense Force to plan and to carry out such an operation which involved flying the rescue team, during the night, from Israel to Entebbe and back, carrying the rescued Israelis. Rabin said, “With such armed forces” as those of Israel, “any country can do almost anything.”

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