|More than 100 hostages
spent several anxious days at Entebbe
|1976: Israelis rescue Entebbe
Israeli commandos have rescued 100 hostages, mostly Israelis or Jews,
held by pro-Palestinian hijackers at Entebbe airport in Uganda.
At about 0100 local time (2200GMT), Ugandan soldiers and the hijackers
were taken completely by surprise when three Hercules transport planes
landed after a 2,500-mile trip from Israel.
About 200 elite troops ran out and stormed the airport building.
During a 35-minute battle, 20 Ugandan soldiers and all seven hijackers
died along with three hostages.
This operation will certainly be inscribed in the annals of military
history, in legend and in national tradition.
The leader of the
assault force, Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu, was also shot dead by
a Ugandan sentry.
The Israelis destroyed 11 Russian-built MiG fighters, which amounted to
a quarter of Uganda's air force.
The surviving hostages were then flown to Israel with a stopover in
Nairobi, Kenya, where some of the injured were treated by Israeli doctors
and at least two transferred to hospital there.
Speaking at the Israeli Knesset (parliament) this afternoon, Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin who ordered the raid said: "This operation will
certainly be inscribed in the annals of military history, in legend and in
Air France plane seized
The crisis began on 27 June, when four militants seized an
Athens-to-Paris Air France flight with 250 people on board.
The hijackers - two from the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine and two from Germany's Baader-Meinhof gang - diverted the plane
to Entebbe, where it arrived on 28 June.
The hijackers - who were joined by three more colleagues - demanded the
release of 53 militants held in jails in Israel and four other countries.
Uganda's President and dictator Idi Amin arrived at the airport to give
a speech in support of the PFLP and supplied the hijackers with extra
troops and weapons.
On 1 July, the hijackers released all the hostages not carrying Israeli
passports. They were flown to Paris and London.
Among them were British citizens George Good, a retired accountant and
Tony Russell, a senior GLC official, who arrived in London on Friday.
The crew were offered the chance to go but chose to stay with the
plane. The remaining hostages were transferred to the airport building.
The hijackers then set a deadline for 1100GMT for their demands to be
met or they would blow up the airliner and its passengers. But their plan
was foiled by the dramatic Israeli raid.