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Youngest Entebbe Survivors Recall Hijacking, Rescue

Hostages released and reunited with family after Operation Entebbe, July 4, 1976 (Photo: GPO/Moshe Milner)

Of the 106 hostages held by terrorists in July 1976 in Uganda, 103 of them were rescued during Israel's daring Operation Entebbe. Now, 40 years later, The Times of Israel's Judah Ari Gross reports that the survivors who were children at the time gathered at a ceremony hosted by Shimon Peres and the daughter of Yitzhak Rabin to share their memories of the ordeal:

Unlike the adult survivors, the kids were somewhat shielded from what was going on, according to Benny Davidson, who was 13 at the time of the kidnapping.

The adults had the children play games, write letters, do anything to keep their minds off of what was going on around them.

“They kept us busy and they kept the terror to themselves,” Davidson said about his parents before the ceremony began.

When the plane was hijacked, Davidson was on his way with his family to the United States to celebrate his recent bar mitzvah.

Davidson’s father served in the Israeli Air Force. When the terrorists came around to collect the hostages’ identifying documents and to divide them into groups of Israelis/Jews and non-Jews, his father quickly shredded his army ID, and the family swallowed some of the pieces and stashed the rest in a can of Coca-Cola, Davidson told the crowd.

“Luckily it was made of paper and not plastic like today,” Davidson said.

To some, this division was reminiscent of the Nazi Selektion, the process by which Germans in the Holocaust determined which Jews would live and which would die.

One of the Jewish passengers, a Holocaust survivor, apocryphally showed the number tattooed on his forearm by the Nazis to Wilfried Böse, one of the German terrorists involved in the plot. “I’m no Nazi! … I am an idealist,” Böse is said to have responded...

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