President Idi Amin of Uganda has cried, foul. “You have wronged me, I am counting now the bodies of my soldiers.” he told Maariv correspondent Uri Dann who reached him by telephone yesterday at the Presidential office in Kampala. Commenting on the rescue raid, Amin complained that Israel just hadn’t played cricket. “Your Hercules planes flew in and my soldiers did not want to shoot them down.” he told Dann.
Amin vigorously denied that he had cooperated with the hijackers. He claimed that, on the contrary, he had defended the Israeli hostages. He said he had left the Organization of African Unity meeting on Mauritius to help work for their release without bloodshed. Amin insisted that the hijackers were the only ones holding the hostages and that his soldiers remained some 200 meters distant from the building where they were being held. He said he had allowed the hijacked Air France jet to land at Entebbe last Monday only because it was running out of fuel.
“We really took good care of the hostages.” Amin told Dann. “We gave them everything–food, toilet articles and so on–and what do we get in return–you kill my people.” Amin claimed that his troops could have given battle to the Israeli commandos but they did not. He said he had control of the situation and, after all “it was only a small thing.”
Dann said he had surprisingly little difficulty reaching Amin by phone. He said he spoke to only one official in Kampala before Amin himself came on the line. He said the conversation lasted a half hour, that Amin sounded in tears some of the time and his feeling was that the Ugandan leader had not really grasped what happened.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.