July 4, 2011, - 12:28 am

Israel’s Raid on Entebbe, Thirty-Five Years Ago Today

By Debbie Schlussel

On America’s Independence Day, let’s not forget another important anniversary for Western Civilization vs. jihadists takes place on July 4, 2011–the 35th anniversary of Operation Entebbe a/k/a Operation Thunderbolt a/k/a Operation Jonathan. It’s an operation that hearkens back to a time, just a few decades ago when Israel was fearless and great.

Israelis Welcome Heroic Israeli Commandos Upon Return From Rescue at Entebbe

On July 4, 1976, we celebrated a great milestone in American history, the Bicentennial–200 years of American survival and triumph.  My parents took me and my sisters to Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum  in Dearbornistan, Michigan, to watch a Bicentennial parade.  As proud Americans, we joyously partook in America’s monumental celebration.  I asked my dad if I would be around for the Tricentennial, and he said, “Maybe . . . if you live to be 107 years old.”  But there was a cherry on top, that day, which I will always remember, even though I was just seven years old at the time:  the heroic, successful Israeli Army rescue of passengers that  hijackers working for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group (and Germany’s Baader-Meinhoff Gang/Red Army) had taken hostage to Uganda.

I remember how proud my late father was, seeing the reports on the TV news that night, just after we returned home from our sunny, happy day at the parade.  America was jubilant in celebrating its special birthday and independence, and its closest ally in the world, Israel, was also jubilant in the rescue of people taken hostage on an Air France flight because they were Jews and flying from Israel.  Israel paid special tribute and had parades in honor of its ally, America’s 200 years of independence.  But Israel also had its own celebration going on–that Israel had successfully rescued so many Jewish lives threatened by Palestinian terrorists.  I say Palestinian–and not Muslim–because the PFLP was not an Islamic organization.  Its leader, George Habash, and his deputy, Wadih Haddad, were Christian Arabs.  Yes, Christian Arabs have their key role in Arab terrorism, and don’t ever forget it.

Rescued Hostages Return to Israel From Entebbe

The Israeli commandos  at Entebbe carried out a secret mission planned on the previous Jewish Sabbath to rescue the passengers.  All but four passengers were rescued.  Three were shot by the pro-Palestinian hijackers, and an old Jewish lady was murdered by Muslim Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin’s henchmen, as she sought medical treatment at a Ugandan hospital.  The operation’s commander, Yonatan “Yoni” Netanyahu a/k/a Jonathan Netanyahu–whom many say was the superior Netanyahu brother to current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was killed in the raid.  Other than this casualty, the operation was carried out with surgical accuracy and success.  Although the flight contained 248 passengers, as is usual for bigoted Palestinians and their supporters, the non-Jewish passengers were freed, and 103 Jewish hostages were rescued by Netanyahu and his fellow IDF commandos. The Israeli commandos also killed all three hijackers and 45 Ugandan soldiers (have fun with those 72-revirginized, chumps!), and they blew up 11 Soviet MiGs. An awesome achievement.

There are three terrific movies made about Operation Entebbe, all of which I recommend highly.  There is the great “Raid on Entebbe,” starring the late Charles Bronson and many other famous actors, the entire video of which is posted below for your viewing pleasure. And, don’t forget, “Victory at Entebbe [VHS],” starring the late Elizabeth Taylor and many other big names. And, last but not least, there is “Operation Thunderbolt a/k/a Mivtza Yonatan,” starring Klaus Kinski, which is mostly in Hebrew with English subtitles. That one was made by the famous Israeli film producer duo of Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus, who made “The Delta Force,” “Bloodsport,” “Breakin’,” and a gazillion other American movie titles you’d recognize. Sadly, as I’ve noted on this site repeatedly, none of these movies–the two which were made in Hollywood and shown on American broadcast network television and the Israeli movie–would be made today. Hollywood doesn’t have the guts, and Israel makes mostly anti-Israel movies, today. Neither ABC nor NBC, which showed the movies, has the guts, either. They wouldn’t want to offend the Muslims and the Arabs by showing actual, factual history with Jews acting heroically and kicking Muslim and Arab ass. The same goes for all of the big name actors, today. Wimps and PC fools.

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Incidentally, I also recommend the book, The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu: The Commander of the Entebbe Rescue ForceHistory of Israel Books) , recommended and given as a gift to me by David at the JIDF.  Great stuff, and shows you the kind of mensch and great writer the late Yoni Netanyahu was.

As I noted, this was not only a great victory for Israel, but for the West.  It was one of the few times when the West successfully saved most hostages versus Islamic terrorists (the Ugandans) and pan-Arabist hijackers (from the PFLP and the German terrorist groups).  And, unlike the Navy SEALS operation killing Bin Laden, there was no burial at sea complete with a Muslim imam’s blessings for the Ugandan soldiers.  Nope, Israel left ’em to rot.  And that’s the way it should be.

So, as we celebrate our country’s 235th anniversary, remember another important anniversary in the West’s fight versus our enemies.

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43 Responses


whatever you think of Israel’s Prime Minister, he clearly adores his older brother and was affected by the loss. Yoni is an Israeli national hero. I don’t think there was a more selfless man who gave his life for his people and his country. And he made a difference in saving innocent Jews from certain death. His memory will always be for a blessing.

In Israel, its rightly called Operation Yonathan. I remember the feeling when I heard on the news, I was electrified. I followed the terrifying ordeal of the Jewish hostages from the beginning and I always thought G-d would save them. And He did. The lesson I learned that night was this: we don’t have to surrender to evil. We have to find the courage to overcome it.

I was 13 years old then and that moment will stay me all of my life! I have always loved Israel and that day stood out for me for what Jews can do – they can do anything. My feeling is 35 years later, Israel’s best days are not behind it – Israel’s best days are yet to come!

Happy 4th!!!

NormanF on July 4, 2011 at 12:50 am

I saw the Israeli version… its in Hebrew and uses stock historical footage for some parts rather than actors and its just riveting storytelling from start to finish. I think its the best of the Entebbe movies. It will never get dated, since it tells us a timeless story of good and evil and of G-d’s presence in the world. If you don’t believe Heaven heard the prayers of people surely about to die, you’re a moron. We can believe in G-d or we can believe in nothing. A Miracle Was Made There and in the end we all thank Our Father In Heaven for all the lives He saved and to the one He called Home since even doing good carries with it a fearsome price! A good man died and we are rejoined to remember what happened because G-d made him a martyr, a holy sacrifice to realize the good in the world we can achieve even when we don’t know we have it in ourselves!

NormanF on July 4, 2011 at 1:01 am

I didn’t know about Jonathan Netanyahu being Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother and him being the only casualty.

My parents are Catholic,but they had great admiration and respect for their(Israeli) raid on Entebbe.

Thanks for posting the video!

ebayer on July 4, 2011 at 1:39 am

“Raid On Entebbe” was a great movie and a greater story when you understand the logistics of it, alright. I saw that and also idolized the kick-ass Israeli commandos and it even inspired my own career in the Army.

Great post, Debbie.

DS_ROCKS! on July 4, 2011 at 1:39 am

The older Netanyahu was like the rest of his family not observant of Halacha, but he was a man of immense emunah, unlike his worthless brother the PM.

David on July 4, 2011 at 3:24 am

    The PM is a good man. I have not agreed with everything he has done and don’t agree with him on some matters but I believe he has Israel’s best interests at heart. Its not Israel that is as is commonly portrayed, the obstacle to peace; its the Arabs. This we must never forget!

    As for Yoni, I see him as a model on how to live, how to inspire and on how to die. He was truly exceptional and his loss is Israel’s. I do think, there is no finer example of risking your life so others may live. Its worth keeping in mind history will not give the Jewish people a second chance.

    NormanF on July 4, 2011 at 6:34 am

A few remarks:

1) Debbie, you forgot to mention the French flight crew. They were offered the option to be released with the non-Jewish hostages. They refused and preferred to stick it out with their Jewish passengers. That’s a form of heroism too!

2) Both Yoni and Bibi (as well as Barak) served in the same special operations unit (Sayeret). ANYBODY who makes the cut of that unit has to have something special to them! Possibly Yoni would have made a better PM but we’ll never know.

3) David, the Netanyahu’s may be “secular” Jews but that doesn’t mean that they are nonobservant or that they have nothing to do with Halacha and/or Judaism. To wit, Bibi’s youngest son (Avner) won, at 15 year old, the prestigious National Bible Quiz for Youth.

Happy 4th of july!

Eliezer on July 4, 2011 at 5:01 am

    The French captain, Bacos, stayed with the Jewish passengers to the end rather than go home with the non-Jewish hostages. He was a righteous man – with emunah, he feared G-d. He was reprimanded by the stupid management of Air France for doing the right thing but he was later awarded the Legion Of Honor. Its hard not to get emotional about the way the German terrorists separated the Jews from the non-Jews and I had a sick feeling to my stomach when I heard of it. We all know what they did in the Holocaust and here their children did the same thing their own fathers did to the Jews. And to me, Operation Yonathan demonstrated the necessity of the Jewish State – never again would Jews be left to die because no one would come to their rescue. I feel proud of what Israel did – in the face of world condemnation, as the late Chaim Herzog said back then, a small country like Israel stood up for human freedom and human dignity. Those two things to me represent the essence of Israel for the entire world.

    NormanF on July 4, 2011 at 6:43 am

I remember this years ago and it didn’t mean as much to me as it does now that I am older and am a Christian. Israel is very dear to me and I stand by Israel, I believe the land historically and spiritually belongs to the Israel people.

Fay Allinson on July 4, 2011 at 7:00 am

I was 15-years-old then and even as I was celebrating the Bicentennial I was immensely proud of the Israelis and I looked to Lt. Col. Netanyahu as an additional example (with my own Dad) during my own Army service later in life. As with so many others commenting here, I also saw Israel’s operation as an example of what good people can do when they resolve to stand up to evil.

John on July 4, 2011 at 7:43 am

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anon on July 4, 2011 at 8:09 am

“none of these movies … would be made today. Hollywood doesn’t have the guts, and Israel makes mostly anti-Israel movies, today.”

Just weeks ago we passed yet another milestone – the 30th anniversary of Israel’s daring raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor (Osiraq) outside Baghdad. That tale is well told in a book by Roger Claire, “Raid on the Sun”. That book provides a lot of back-story – Israel getting the F-16s ordered by the now deposed Shah, the pilots and their experience training on the planes in the US, Washington’s reaction after the raid, etc. – that *deserve* to be made into a movie. But I doubt it’ll ever be made. Israelis as *heroes*? Not very PC today.

As it happens, I was in Washington celebrating the bi-centennial as a young adult. I’d slept on the Mall, so didn’t know of the Entebbe raid until I saw the headlines in a newsstand. The man who subsequently created the Navy Seals has said the Entebbe Raid was a major inspiration for creating the Teams.

Raymond in DC on July 4, 2011 at 8:10 am

Isn’t it ironic that 35 years ago Israel had the chutzpah to fly thousands of miles to rescue the hostages but today doesn’t have the guts to rescue an Israeli solider mere miles away?

Broomer on July 4, 2011 at 8:20 am

the isrealis
were demonstrating how
it can & should be done

of course
jimmy ( the cretin ) carter
didn’t learn a thing

prestigio on July 4, 2011 at 9:04 am

Dear Debbie,

I pray for the repose of the soul of Jonathan netanyahu. What a hero he is. Yes I am using the present tense becaus I believe a hero will always be a hero, He is not just a hero in the past.

G. R. SCHAROUBIM on July 4, 2011 at 9:25 am

Not only can’t Israel rescue one of their soldiers just miles away they can’t even rescue a patriot held by their dear ally America for more than twenty years.

Jerry on July 4, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Jerry I’m sorry but I don’t consider Jonathan Pollard a patriot, rather he is a slimy traitor who deserves to be swinging from the end of a rope.

    It denigrates the memory of Col. Netanyahu to put him in the same category as that slime Pollard. If Pollard wanted to help Israel, instead of SELLING secrets, he should have resigned and gained Israeli citizenship and then joined the Mossad.

    jimmyPx on July 5, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I remember it well. I was glued to my TV everytime a report came on It was amazing what the IDF could and did pull off. I don’t think any other country could do what they. Carter completely botched the rescue of our hostages in Iran just a few years (I had just got out of the Navy a weeks before and was notified to be on standby for a possible recall which never came).

Excellent post Debbie.

Paul on July 4, 2011 at 9:37 am

Good post. We need stories like this these days. You’re right we should’ve left OBL to rot. I like to think the SEALs dipped their bullets in a hunk of spam prior to the mission. Happy 4th of July.

samurai on July 4, 2011 at 9:59 am

Great post — it was the type of daring and brave operation that has personified Israeli operations. Just ask the Iraqis and the Syrians … sorry guys.

Happy 4th. Sam Adams believed Americans and Jews had a common destiny, and he was right.

Vince on July 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I remember the news footage when it seemed the whole world supported Israel.

Also remembered are the news sections during the Six Day War in 1967 and those images of eye patched Moshe Dayan leading the Israeli tanks to a magnificent victory over numerously superior odds.

On both occasions the BBC reported fairly, recognising the good from the bad.

Now? I can barely watch or listen to the left wing and antisemitic propaganda which pours out of that once respected organisation.

logdon on July 4, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Oslo. The handshake with the devil and its been downhill ever since. The Israel of the Entebbe Raid no longer exists. One does not shake hands with terrorists one kills them. Duh.

dan on July 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm

What has happened to our courage and our bravery, our b’tachon and emunah? Why are we allowing our enemies and the Jewish Left to dictate to us? Debbie, thank you for posting this poignant reminder of what once was and what can be again if we come to our senses soon. Happy 4th to you.

[Readers: Bitachon means security in Hebrew, and emunah is faith or belief. To all commenters, in the future, if you use non-English terms, please be polite and translate them in English, so everyone understands. Thanks. DS]

Naomi R on July 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Today we celebrate the backwardness and stupidity of our enemies. Yippee KiYea

Enemies, Uganda to Hell on July 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Great Post Debbie. Makes me so proud of our IDF. Happy 4th!

D'vorah on July 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm

thank you for informing me and others! i plan to watch the movies.

gary brown on July 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm

It was a great reminder of that day. I was 23 years old and in Israel, very proud to be an American and Israeli.

Thanks for the movies, I only saw one of them.

Happy 4th and thanks for your support of Israel.

Edie on July 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm

It’s amusing that Yaphet Kotto played Idi Amin in RAID ON ENTEBBE, since Mr. Kotto is Jewish.

Uganda Young, But Uganda Die on July 4, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Thanks for the reminder Debbie.

Dtom on July 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Thank you for the post, Debbie. And I agree with all the comments posted here.

JeffE on July 4, 2011 at 11:18 pm

… and the Jewish men who answered the Call and went to Africa to free their people, CLANK when they walk.

Jack on July 4, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Very little known is that the Americans practiced an Entebbe like raid at Ft. Bragg not long after the famous raid utilizing the 1st Ranger Battalion. It was successful; just incase we needed to do the same. However; the politicians, at the time, didn’t have the guts to use the Rangers for fear of bad press.

TomH on July 5, 2011 at 5:52 am

Great post Debbie. I also wrote about the 35th anniversary of the raid on Entebbe on my blog: http://blog.rabbijason.com/2011/07/israels-raid-on-entebbe-35th.html

Yoni Netanyahu was the only casualty among the Israeli soldiers, but there were casualties among the hostages. According to Wikipedia, a 19-year-old Frenchman named Jean-Jacques Maimoni—who chose to identify himself as an Israeli Jew to the hijackers even though he had a French passport—stood up, and was killed by the Israeli commandos, who mistook him for a hijacker. Another hostage, Pasco Cohen, 52, the manager of an Israeli medical insurance fund, was also fatally wounded by gunfire from either the hijackers or the commandos. In addition, a third hostage, 56-year-old Ida Borochovitch, a Russian Jew who had emigrated to Israel, was killed in the crossfire.

Also, following the raid, Uganda tried to take Israel to task in the UN Security Council, a notoriously anti-Israel and anti-Semitic body. Following Chaim Herzog’s great speech at the UN, the SC decided to not take any action against Israel (or Uganda).

Rabbi Jason Miller on July 5, 2011 at 7:54 am

    You are so awesmoe for helping me solve this mystery.

    Andi on July 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Yes, it was a wonderful operation. It let Israel’s enemies know that there were genuine consequences for their actions, and not simply the droning on you hear today. As for Hollywood, it is neither edgy or remotely clever. It is in fact quite reactionary, since it churns out plot lines that have been used for over 40 years. Yes, the genocidal general, clerical rapist, and thieving businessman do not represent original portrayals of genuine characters, but simply worn stock figures set up like chess pieces on a board. Film making for many studios has become what painting by the numbers was for art.

Worry01 on July 5, 2011 at 8:47 am

Debbie I think Israel is still great and still delivers lots of restaurant quality death and destruction on our enemies. Some of it is unacknowledged, but the dead enemies and their busted nuclear facilities speak for themselves. As for translating my comments, I make them mainly for you and would prefer those who don’t know what they mean to keep their noses out if it. But its your blog so here goes: If we were dating (copulating) I would spank your tush (spank your bottom) for suggesting Israel (Israel) is in some kind of moral decline, which is momme lashon (from your tush).

A1 on July 5, 2011 at 10:00 pm

I would like to honestly express my true and sincere feelings for Lt Col Netanyahu, ofcourse I would never have known about him had I not seen this fantastic movie Raid on Entebbe. This movie was such an excellent one with me in utter suspense and that every second I was in fear that something might go wrong that may cause the whole operation to fail,I was just a young boy at the time I saw this movie, than after a few days I found out that it was a true event that took place and it was just not a movie, it actually happened. ‘My my’ what a brave unselfish man, a real hero, Netanyahu, he died and sacrificed his life so that many others could live. I have nothing but all praise for him and his family. Today his younger brother is the PM. Israel, I believe is in good hands. I say that because his late brother’s blood runs in him too, His brother’s sacrifice for the love of his country and the people of Israel can never super seed his own greed and ambition, that is my sincere feeling. THANK YOU.

S.Dorji on October 11, 2012 at 1:52 am

I spoke about the Entebbe raid to my daughter and showed her a medaljon coin that I have. Jean-Jacques Maimoni, a 19-year-old French immigrant stayed at our school in Jaffa Tabeetha School. I never meet him but would be proud to have done so. I am proud to have stayed in Israel for 13 years. Not a day goes by without thinking about that wonderful country and people. I might not be a born Jew but my heart is. The Arabs that is supposed to be Christians are far from being a Christian. Thier heart was black as the darkest place like Aza zel.

Dan Johansson on April 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I read abt operetion enttebe on web and greatly amazed, I am protestant christian and have a good knowledge on jewish history. my country ethiopia is also very much connected to Israel. A great job!

yohannes on June 16, 2015 at 10:53 am

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