Netanyahu in Entebbe: 'When Yoni was killed, our world collapsed'
'31 years after the Holocaust, the Jews kidnapped to Uganda were once again separated from non-Jews and condemned to death,' says prime minister during ceremony commemorating 40 years to the daring rescue operation in which his brother, Yoni, was killed.
"Entebbe is always with me. In my thoughts, in my mind, and deep in my heart," the prime minister said.
"The hijacking of the Air France plane to Entebbe touched a nerve for the people of Israel," Netanyahu continued. "Thirty-one years after the Holocaust, another a selection process took place in which Jews were separated from non-Jews by those who seek to kill us. The terrorists freed people of other nations and condemned the Jews to death."
He went on to say that "for the families of the hostages who were killed, the cost was terrible, as it was for me and my family. When Yoni was killed, our world collapsed."
Speaking of the government's decision to green-light the operation, Netanyahu said "The late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin deserves great appreciation for the leadership he has shown by making the fateful decision to go on the operation. Others who were central in approving the operation and executing it were defense minister Shimon Peres, IDF chief of staff Motta Gur, Air Force commander Benny Peled, the commander of the Infantry and Paratroopers Branch Dan Shomron, who was also commanded over the operation, and the Sayeret Matkal commander, my brother Yoni."
Akiva Lexer, one of the freed hostages, also spoke at the ceremony, saying "Bless the Lord for the miracle he graced me with in this place."
Lexer went on to say, "My life was saved on July 4, 40 years ago, when I was saved in a heroic and unforgettable operation of the Israeli forces and their commander Yonatan Netanyahu, who sacrificed his life to save ours. On behalf of myself and my three children—Tal, Yaakov, and Barak—who were all born after the operation, I want to express my gratitude. Bless be Thy name."
Before leaving for Africa, the prime minister said "Coming on a journey like this is also very important from diplomatic, economic and security perspectives and I am pleased that Israel is going back to Africa in a big way. We are opening Africa to Israel again. All Africa is excited by this visit and I am very excited as well."