It is a globally known fact that Israel has the most technologically advanced military on earth. Today Israel is among the world’s high-tech superpower and one of the world’s top weapons exporters with approximately $6.5 billion in annual arms sales. PM Modi made a historic visit to Israel and became the first sitting Prime Minister to visit the Jewish land. India has also been a major importer of arms and weapons from Israel.
There are certain reasons why Israel’s defense force is seen as the best defense system in the world. In 1976 they carried a hostage rescue mission which was the most daring mission in the history. It was called Operation Thunderbolt or Operation Entebbe. This daring rescue showed the world that Jews will never ever be left to others to care for their safety. Only the Israel Defense Forces can be relied on.
On June 27, 1976, Air France Flight 139, travelling with 248 passengers from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens, was hijacked above the Gulf of Corinth by two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two Germans from the Revolutionary Cells, a violent leftist organisation connected to the Baader-Meinhof gang. The hijackers had the stated objective to free 40 Palestinian and affiliated militants imprisoned in Israel and 13 prisoners in four other countries in exchange for the hostages.
The plane was diverted after a stopover in Athens and was landed in Entebbe, the main airport of Uganda. The Ugandan government supported the hijackers, and the then dictator Idi Amin personally welcomed the hijackers and the hostages. After moving all hostages from the aircraft to a disused airport building, the hijackers separated all Israelis and several non-Israeli Jews from the larger group and forced them into a separate room.
The non-Israeli hostages were released and were flown out to Paris but 94 Israeli passengers along with the 12-member Air France crew, remained as hostages and were threatened with death. The hijackers threatened to kill the hostages if their prisoner release demands were not met. This threat led to the planning of the rescue operation.
The Israeli Defense Forces had never previously launched an operation outside the Middle East, and had neither sufficient time nor information to do so then. The IDF acted on information provided by the Israeli intelligence agency MOSSAD. The operation was taken place at night. Israeli transport planes carried 100 commandos over 2,500 miles (4,000 km) to Uganda for the rescue of hostages. The operation, which took a week of planning, lasted 90 minutes.
Of the remaining hostages, 102 were rescued, 5 Israeli commandos were wounded and unit commander Lt.Col Yonatan Netanyahu, the older brother of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacrificed his life for the Israeli’s and became the real hero for his country. Operation Entebbe, which had the military code name Operation Thunderbolt is also referred as Operation Jonathan in memory of the unit’s leader, Yonatan Netanyahu.
The legacies of the rescue operation were manifold. Arguably setting the standard for counter-terrorism, Operation Thunderbolt also marked the beginning of the end for both Idi Amin and the violent left in Germany. Thus India having an ally with such great military force is just an honour. Welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi with such great gesture shows how strong India-Israel friendship will be in the future.
“All of Israel is responsible for one another.” This lesson was demonstrated through this momentous attack ordered by the Israeli government led by Yitzhak Rabin.
Watch the video of the Miracle at Entebbe that was released on its 40th anniversary.