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Ten Things You Probably Didn't Know About Operation Entebbe

Benjamin Netanyahu with Surin Hershko, a soldier who was paralyzed during Operation Entebbe (Photo: GPO/Sa'ar Ya'acov)

All week, Stand for Israel has brought you stories about Operation Entebbe, the daring Israeli mission to save over 100 hostages four decades ago. Now, Tablet's Moshe Rosenberg shares 10 little-known facts about the raid, about those who made it possible, and about those who were saved during the ordeal:

How many Israeli Prime Ministers or future Prime Ministers played a role in the rescue at Entebbe?

At least 3.

It is widely suggested that Binyamin Netanyahu’s political career was born, or at least boosted, by the legendary status of his brother’s sacrifice. What is less known is that Bibi was also a member of Sayeret Matkal, or “the Unit,” which performed the raid. He did not actively take part in the raid, in keeping with the policy that two brothers not be risked in a single operation. Yitzhak Rabin was the serving Prime Minister who had to sign off on the rescue. He was very reluctant, but ultimately agreed with his Defense Minister, future Prime Minister Shimon Peres, to exercise the military option. Finally, Ehud Barak, yet another future PM, was dispatched to Kenya, where he made the arrangements for refueling the Hercules aircraft on the way home.

What tipped the balance in favor of the military option?

Any way you slice it, committing to such a plan was going to take a leap of faith. Iddo Netanyahu (Entebbe: A Defining Moment in the War on Terrorism, Balfour Books, 2003) describes a decisive moment as the personal assurance given by Yoni to Shimon Peres on Friday of the fateful week: “’My impression was one of exactitude and imagination,’ Peres says, adding that Yoni’s complete self-confidence had a strong influence on him.” Peres’s forty-five minute meeting with Yoni fortified his belief in a military option, which he recommended to the Prime Minister...

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