On the morning of Sunday, the 26th of June, 1976, 200 passengers boarded an "Air France" flight from Tel-Aviv to Paris via Athens. Another group of passengers, 46 in number, joined the flight after a short stop at Athens. Among this group of passengers were four young people: two members of the Anarchist terror organization RAF and two members of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine).
About half an-hour later, the four youngsters – three men and one woman – rose from their seats, took out guns and took control over the plane. They informed the officials in the Paris airport that the flight will not reach its destination, and instead took the plane to the Benghazi airport in Libya. When they reached Benghazi, they took off the plane all of the non-Jewish passengers. About 200 passengers, all of them Jews, most of the Israeli, were left aboard.
At approximately 13:00, the Israeli prime-minister Yitzhak Rabin, called a special meeting of the government. He updated the ministers on the developing crisis, but very little detail was available at the time. Only an hour later, the picture became clearer. The terrorists demanded that the governments of Israel and Germany release from prisons hundreds of people who were members of terrorist organizations.
After a short stop in Benghazi for refueling, the terrorists left Libya, flying southern down to Uganda, where they asked for autorotation to land in the airport of Entebbe. The Ugandan dictator Idi Amin agreed to let the hijacked plane land in Entebbe. The distance between Tel-Aviv and Entebbe reaches more than 10,000 KM. The terrorists were certain that Israel would have no other choice but to cooperate with them.
Rabin's government had a very strict policy regarding situations of this kind: No negotiation with terrorist, at any price, under any circumstances. The governments of Germany, France, England and the United States, granted complete support to this approach. Rabin told the head military commanders to start preparing for a rescue operation, despite the distance, despite the foreseen conflict with the Ugandan military and government.
There were countless hardships waiting for the military men who started planning an operation, but one thing was clear to everyone around: Israel will not abandon its citizens. The basic values of brotherhood and devotion took over the hearts and minds of these people. No matter how far it has to go and how hard it might be, Israel will not stop acting in light of these values.
Fortunately, the terrorists hadn't done their homework before deciding to land the plane in Entebbe. As the Israeli intelligence agencies started looking for information, they found out that the Entebbe Airport was built by an Israeli construction company, "Solel Bone", during the mid 1960's, when Israel still had close ties with Uganda. This information was crucial because thanks to it, the military got hold of maps and photos of the airport.
In addition to that, the terrorists committed a mistake when they decided to release all of the non-Jewish passengers, because many of them handed out information to the Israeli military about the identity and different armor used by the hijackers.
Finally, on the morning of July 4th, 1976, the rescue operation got under way. Soldiers from three elite units in the Israeli army took place in this courageous action. Almost all of the hostages were rescued, but the head commander of the forces on ground, Lt. Colonel Yoni Netanyahu, was shot to death by Ugandan soldiers.
Israel's decision to free the hostages using elite units, made headlines all around the world. Many people were simply amazed by the wise and affective rescue operation, which took place in such short notice and so far away from home.