by Jeff Dunetz at lidblog.com
It wasn’t supposed to be the big story of the day. After all, July 4, 1976, was the two hundredth anniversary of the United States, the nation which became a beacon of freedom for the entire world. By the end of the day, a report from the other side of the world became the lead story. Because more than anything else, that happened at any gala celebration of America’s 200th anniversary.
Israel’s raid on Entebbe, Uganda, taught the world the spirit of 1776″ still exists and freedom is worth fighting for.
A broadsheet newspaper like the L.A. Times. Places its most important story on the front page outside right column because it’s the first story a reader will see. Some papers thought the story of t was so important they gave it more than one column, like the L.A. Times.
America needed a big celebration as it was recovering from the scandal, which ended up with a president resigning for the first and (hopefully) only time in its history.
Israel was recovering from the Yom Kippur War three years earlier. That war saw Israel come the closest it ever to being destroyed.
One year before the Entebbe raid, the United Nations passed a resolution that Zionism was racism.
Therefore, on July 4, 1976, Israel and America needed some good news.
America got its good news but from an unexpected place. On America’s two-hundredth birthday, the tiny nation of Israel created the good news that would boost the morale of America and much of the Western world with a daring raid,
This is how it happened.
On June 27, 1976, Air France Flight 139, carrying 248 passengers and a crew of twelve, took off from Athens, heading for Paris. Soon after the 12:30 p.m. takeoff, the flight was hijacked by two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and members of the German “Revolutionary Cells (R.Z.),” whose names were Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann.
The terrorists commandeered the flight, diverting it to Benghazi, Libya, for refueling. The plane left Benghazi, and at 3:15, it arrived at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. There they were welcomed by the Ugandan despot, President Idi Amin Dada, and Ugandan soldiers who were ordered by Amin to secure the airport.
At Entebbe, the four hijackers were joined by three “friends.” The hijackers were led by the German, Böse. They demanded the release of 40 Palestinian terrorists held in Israel and 13 other detainees imprisoned in Kenya, France, Switzerland, and Germany–and if these demands were not met, they threatened to begin killing hostages on July 1, 1976. Eventually, that deadline was extended to July 4.
The hijackers held the passenger’s hostage in an abandoned transit hall of Entebbe Airport. They separated Israelis and several non-Israeli Jewish people from the rest of the passengers and forced them into a separate room.
The terrorists then threatened to kill all the hostages if Israel did not comply with their demands.
They really didn’t mean ALL the passengers. Over the following two days, 148 hostages that weren’t in the Israeli/Jewish group or the flight crew were released and flown by Air France to Paris.
The captain of the hijacked plane, Michel Bacos, told the terrorists that all passengers, including the remaining ones, were his responsibility. He would not leave them behind. Bacos’ entire crew followed suit.
“When I was being held hostage and had the possibility of being released, I called the crew together and said: ‘We have to remain with the passengers until the end — that is our duty’. It was an immediate, unhesitating decision. Every member of my crew agreed with me. We would stay with the hostages no matter what and return with them to France. To me it was not just a question of the law — it was to do with basic values of decency and human behavior. It was, simply put, the right thing to do.”
A French nun also refused to leave, insisting that one of the remaining hostages take her place, but Ugandan soldiers forced her onto a plane, taking the freed hostages to Paris. A total of 85 Israeli and/or Jewish hostages remained, as well as 20 others, most of whom included the crew of the Air France plane.read more