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On This Day: The Entebbe Rescue Operation



On this day: in history (1976), Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commando squad successfully rescued 102 hostages at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. It was called Operation Entebbe or Operation Thunderbolt.

A week earlier, on 27 June, an Air France Airbus A300 jet airliner with 248 passengers had been hijacked en route from Israel to France.
The airliner was hijacked by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Red Army Faction (a West German radical leftist group) and flown to Entebbe, Uganda, where they were joined by additional accomplices. The flight, which had originated in Tel Aviv with the destination of Paris, was diverted after a stopover in Athens via Benghazi to Entebbe. The Ugandan government supported the hijackers, and dictator Idi Amin, who had been informed of the hijacking from the beginning, personally welcomed them at Entebbe.

The hijackers freed those of the 258 passengers who did not appear to be Israeli or Jewish and held the rest hostage for the release of 53 militants imprisoned in Israel, Kenya, West Germany, and elsewhere.

In response, Israel, on July 3, dispatched four Hercules C-130H cargo planes carrying 100 soldiers and escorted by Phantom jet fighters. After flying some 2,500 miles (4,000 km) from Israel to Uganda, the Israeli force rescued the hostages within an hour after landing. All seven of the militants were killed, and 11 MiG fighters supplied to Uganda by the Soviet Union were destroyed; the Israelis lost one soldier and three hostages during the operation. On the return trip, the Israeli planes met an awaiting hospital plane and refueled at Nairobi, Kenya.

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Created by Okey Obiabunmo

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