Entebbe- 30 Years Later
JPost has a great piece that is well worth reading. Here are a couple of selections that caught my eye.
“When Kafri fully opened his eyes from resting, several hours had passed. He stared mindlessly up at a hamsa amulet dangling in the shadows under the Mercedes.
Through the darkened porthole in the other direction, the moonlight reflecting off East Africa’s Lake Victoria suddenly came into view, giving him a start.
“That’s when we realized there was no escape plan; nobody to rescue us,” Kafri remembers. “We were too far from home.”
Further back in the aircraft, Sgt.-Maj. Amir Ofer, huddled over a jeep, was having his own epiphany: “We realized there was no way back – we had no fuel. The mission would be a success or the alligators would have a festival.”
The plan to rescue the more than 100 hostages held at Uganda’s Entebbe airport was certainly unprecedented. The elite team was used to covert operations on Israeli or nearby soil, where the terrain was familiar. But passing over Ethiopia and then Kenya, their final mission in Uganda would be an unparalleled 3,800 km. from Israel; the round-trip distance too far for the Hercules to handle without refueling.”
“Later, soldiers would joke that the plan sounded like a script from Mission Impossible: The Israelis would land without arousing suspicion, pretend to be Ugandan guards traveling in an entourage of Land Rovers behind President Idi Amin in his famous black Mercedes, and overtake the terrorists with the element of surprise, despite hundreds of enemy soldiers in every direction.
Kafri would be the first in the counterfeit convoy as the driver of the Mercedes, sitting next to Sayeret Matkal Commander, Lt.-Col. Yonatan (Yoni) Netanyahu, in charge of the inner ground assault, and Sayeret Matkal officer Maj. Muki Betzer, second in command for the inner ground assault. Ofer would be the last soldier in the convoy, in the back of the second Land Rover.
(Picture on the Right: The famous black Mercedes, flanked by Israeli Sayeret Matkal special forces in one of three Hercules aircraft. Only 20 years later, the soldiers discovered that Ugandan cars are designed with the driver on the right, unlike the Mercedes they brought from Israel.
Photo: IDF Spokesman)
Together, the 29 Israelis in the three cars commanded by Netanyahu were to kill the terrorists, ward off the Ugandan guards and free the hostages, while the other teams, acting in parallel – some as far as one mile away – secured the periphery areas, guarded the planes, refueled, destroyed the Ugandan fighter planes and reloaded the Israeli planes with the hostages.”
Wow. What else can I say.