Entebbe today
Photo: Michal Shechter
The old terminal building in Entebbe
Photo: Elad Gershgorn
Jonathan Netanyahu
Photo: GPO

Entebbe terminal to be razed

Terminal in Entebbe where Jewish and Israeli hostages were held and rescued by IDF rescue mission in 1976 will be demolished; museum commemrating kidnapping incident and rescue mission will be built in its place

History is crumbling: Thirty years after the Entebbe Rescue Operation, the mayor of Entebbe, in Uganda, announced on Monday that the old terminal where the hostages were held will be demolished.


The mayor made the announcement during a special ceremony that was organized by the participants of "Desert Queen" in the old terminal where the hostages were held. The mayor promised that the observation tower will remain standing and that within a year, a museum will be built in memory of the hijacking incident and the rescue operation.


The Entebbe Operation, also known as Operation Jonathan, took place in 1976 when the IDF forces led an operation for the release of 105 Jewish and Israeli tourists who were held as hostages by Palestinian terrorists.


On June 27, an Air France flight left from Israel to Paris via Greece. When the plane landed in Athens, 56 extra people boarded the plane, including several terrorists from the extremist offshoot of the Palestinian National Front, they hijacked the plane and redirected it to Uganda. The hijackers gave an ultimatum where they demanded the release of over 50 convicted terrorists, most of whom were in Israel.


Alongside the negotiation efforts made by Israel, the defense establishment planned a rescue mission. An incursion force led by Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan (Yoni) Netanyahu (Benjamin Netanyahu's brother) comprised mostly of commandos, took over the kidnappers and evacuated the hostages to nearby planes.


At the same time, other forces operated in the airport and eliminated MiG fighter jets that were parked in the airport and took over another terminal in order to ensure the safety of the planes on their way back to Israel. During the operation, three travelers were killed as well as one fighter, the commander of the force, Yonatan Netanyahu.


Stunned to hear about demolition

Today, the terminal looks almost destroyed. In fact, only the skeleton of the building where the hostages were held remains, and alongside it stands the observation tower where a sign reads the story of the kidnapping and the rescue mission.


One of the survivors of the Entebbe Operation Nili Ben Dor took part in the ceremony. She said she was stunned to hear about the plan to demolish the site but "the way the terminal looks like today it does not really matter," she said.


She spoke during the ceremony with tears in her eyes. She spoke about the force that helped her build a life for herself which she loves, a loving family, a career of her choice, and a country that is dear to her.


She added that the fact that this place was neglected for so long helps her look at this traumatic place without experiencing feelings that are too intense.


פרסום ראשון: 09.12.06, 02:02
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