40 Years After Entebbe, Israeli Hostages Reflect | IFCJ
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40 Years After Entebbe, Israeli Hostages Reflect

Israeli hostages released after Entebbe raid, July 4, 1976 (Photo: Moshe Milner/GPO)

This coming 4th of July will mark 40 years since terrorists hijacked an Israeli jetliner and landed in in Entebbe, Uganda, prompting the famed Israeli raid that rescued many of the hostages. Haaretz's Judy Maltz speaks with some of the surviving hostages, detailing their dramatic ordeal:

Forty years ago this summer Israeli commando forces executed the most storied hostage-rescue operation of the 20th century. Sneaking into Entebbe airport in the dead of night, they freed close to 100 hostages, almost all Israeli, whisking them back to safety on board three Hercules aircraft. The date was July 4, 1976, and the stunning coup might have dominated world headlines, were it not slightly overshadowed by the bicentennial celebrations taking place in the United States on that very day...

A formative moment in Israeli history, the daring Entebbe raid (later to become known as Operation Yonatan in honor of the dead commander) provided a great boost of morale to a nation still reeling from the blows of the Yom Kippur War. Reflecting back four decades later, half a dozen of the hostages share their thoughts and recollections with Haaretz.

Only eight-and-a-half years old at the time, Tzipi Gonen’s recollections are somewhat blurry. One scene, though, will remain forever ingrained in her mind: “To this day, I can see my father sitting propped up in a chair in the Entebbe terminal, his shirt full of blood. That memory will always haunt me.”

Tzipi, her 13-year-old brother, and her mother all survived Entebbe. Her father did not. Fifty-two years old at the time, Pasco Cohen, a family doctor, was accidentally shot when Israeli forces stormed the terminal. “He had gotten up to look for my brother, who had been separated from the rest of the family,” relays Tzipi. “While he was standing, he was shot in the groin.” Cohen later succumbed to his wounds in a hospital in Nairobi, where he was evacuated when the planes carrying the freed hostages back to Israel stopped to refuel...

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