This is coolbert:
In my lifetime, without a doubt, the greatest feat of military daring-do was the Israeli "Raid at Entebbe"
An Israeli commando/ranger/special operations unit stormed the airport terminal at Entebbe, rescuing about one hundred Jews [Israelis and non-Israelis], that were being held hostage by a mixed force of Palestinians and members of the German Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang.
The prelude to the storming of the terminal was the hijacking of a French airliner carrying about two hundred passengers, half of which were Jews [again, about half of the Jews were Israeli, the other half were non-Israeli]. The hijacked airliner was first diverted to Libya, refueled, and then flown to the airport at Entebbe, Uganda. Upon landing at the airport, it became clear that the notorious dictator Idi Amin Dada was in league with the hijackers, and playing a sinister and cruel game of "international good offices" in the process. Amin's troops aided and abetted the hijackers, guarding the airport, all the while Amin playing the role of the diplomat attempting to "solve" the crisis. [It should be remembered that Amin was voted in the year 2000 one of the ten worst dictators of the last one thousand years. Amin was not only a cruel man as a dictator, but he possessed a terrible sadistic streak
that manifested itself in all sorts of macabre spectacle].
The usual series of demands were made by the hijackers, demands the Israelis had no intention of acceding to. These demands included the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails. The terrorist hijackers threatened all sorts of reprisals if their demands were not met, including executing the Jewish hostages [at some point the Jews had been separated from the non-Jews]. Further the hijackers threatened to blow up the Entebbe terminal if a rescue attempt was made, the terminal already being wired for demolition
Israel, as been mentioned, had no
intention of acceding to the terrorist demands.
Immediately, the planning for a rescue operation was put into motion
A rescue operation that was
An operation that proved to be successful in the extreme
Israeli commando/ranger/special operations forces did
storm the terminal at Entebbe, did
kill the terrorists, did
rescue the hostages, and did
return them to Israel. The cost was slight
. One Israeli soldier killed [Netanyahu, the commander of the assault force]. One teenage hostage was killed. And one hostage was subsequently murdered by Amin's goons [a woman who had been ill and had been moved to a hospital in nearby Kampala]. [Netanyahu is the older brother of B. Netanyahu, who was subsequently elected Prime Minister of Israel].
"The rescue at Entebbe is a classic example of a successful special operations. The Israelis used surprise and superior training
to overcome their enemies and gain their objectives with a minimum
loss of life. It was a logistically difficult mission. Thirty-five commandos in two Landrovers and a Mercedes with four APCs for firepower had to be transported over 2,200 miles and back again with over 100 hostages. The building the hostages were kept in was guarded by seven terrorists and an unknown number of Ugandan soldiers and was reported to be wired with explosives." [the actual force consisted of four C-130 transport aircraft and an airborne 707 aircraft functioning as an airborne command post and hospital].
What is so amazing about this rescue operation of the Israeli is that it was planned and brought to fruition in only six days!!!!!
Normally, military operations of this sort take a lot of time and planning and training.
Of course, the Israeli did not
have the advantage of time in this case, but nonetheless, that they were able
to succeed in such a marked fashion came as a tremendous shock and surprise to the whole world.Several factors
contributed to Israeli success.
have in existence for some time a highly trained, motivated, and experienced anti-terrorist unit specializing in hostage rescue operations. This was the unit that carried out the assault on the terminal at Entebbe. The Sayaret Matkal
. This unit constantly trained for these type of hostage rescue operations. Constantly training for any scenario that can be conceived. And constantly devising stratagems and tactics for each scenario. Planning for Entebbe was relatively straightforward according to Israeli commentators. The Israeli were able to pick and choose
operational elements from a variety of hostage scenarios and put a workable plan together in relatively short time.
The Israeli did have good intelligence
of the situation on the ground. This intelligence was the result of a very intensive intelligence effort coordinated by the Israeli General Rehavam Ze'evi. This man has been mentioned in a previous blog. The operatives of Ze'evi were able to debrief half of the original passengers [the non-Jews] of the hijacked airliner [these persons had been released as a "good will" gesture by the terrorists]. In hindsight, this release proved to be a fatal error
on the part of the hijackers. From a careful debriefing of the released passengers, the Israelis were able to obtain intelligence vital to the assault force. How many
terrorists were there? How many
stood guard duty at any one time? What
was the inside layout of the terminal like? Where
were the hostages being held? What
was the role of the Ugandan soldiers? And most crucial, was the fact that the terminal did have explosives present, BUT THE EXPLOSIVES WERE NOT WIRED!!!!!
Advantages aside, the Israeli did have a number of difficulties
that confronted them, difficulties that seemed to be insurmountable. The long distance
[2200 miles the aircraft carrying the assault force would have to fly without detection through hostile territory]. The element of surprise
was crucial. Surprise had to be achieved for the assault to be successful!! And of course, returning
to Israel unscathed without interference also had to be considered.
For each difficulty, a solution was found by the Israeli and implemented.
Penetration of hostile airspace undetected was achieved by low level flight
. To elude the radars of the various Arab countries and also Soviet Navy ships in the Red Sea.Surprise
of the hijackers and the Ugandans at the terminal was also achieved. This was done in part by using dark skinned Israeli commandos who wore "blackface". [this maybe somewhat of an exaggeration, but nonetheless, the use of such "pseudo-forces" does quite often offer an advantage to attackers, throwing the defender off guard].Return
to Israel was facilitated by refueling in Kenya and destroying Ugandan MIG aircraft on the ground. The Israeli, in addition to the Sayeret Matkal, had additional army units to provide support and eliminate any possible Ugandan reaction. This force is described as being equipped with APC's [armored personnel carriers]. I have also read of these vehicles being described as some sort of armored jeep, equipped with recoilless rifles.
In my mind, perhaps the greatest advantage the Israeli had in this operation was the element of surprise
. I don't think a reputable military man in the world would have ever expected that such an operation as the Entebbe raid could have be done. This must have also been inconceivable to the hijackers, who thought they had gotten themselves beyond the reach of the long-arm of the Israeli military.
In the aftermath of the Entebbe raid, some interesting comments and observations were made by a variety of people. Some of these comments and observations were ill conceived, some were not.
The late Israeli Prime Minister Rabin, who authorized the raid at Entebbe, was later quoted as making an interesting statement concerning the raid itself. Rabin was quoted as saying that the decision had been made to proceed with the assault, no matter what. "Even if the rescuers were all killed, and all the hostages killed as well, it still would have been worth it!!!"TRY
is the mentality at work here.
[After the abortive American Desert One operation in Iran, three years after Entebbe, Rabin was asked about the American failure and how it contrasted to Israeli success at Entebbe. Rabin replied that even if the American attempt was a failure, it still sent a message. That message is, "we are going to TRY
and you are not going to be allowed to push us around!!"].
The American gadfly "activist" Jesse Jackson spouted outrage at the Israeli success, saying that "this meant anytime foreign forces want to invade African countries, they can feel free to do so!!"
Some gadfly pundits have pointed to several aspects of this Israeli military operation and raised questions.
One comment has been that the Israeli MUST
have had American intelligence help in this operation. Presumably overhead reconnaissance satellite photos of the Entebbe airport. With hindsight, it can be seen that this is just not so
. The debriefing by Israeli intelligence of the hundred or so released passengers gave sufficient and vital intelligence for the Israeli.
Another comment is that the Israeli must have some sort of secret weapon
to fly the 2200 miles from Israel to Entebbe undetected by the radars of the various Arab countries and Soviet ships in the Red Sea. This is also nonsense
. All the Israeli did is very good low level flight on a path calculated to evade radars of hostile forces."The difficult we are doing now, the impossible, give us a while" - - David Ben Gurion.
One further observation.
[Dora Bloch, the Israeli hostage murdered in the Ugandan hospital at the behest of Amin in retaliation for the successful Israeli assault, had her body hastily buried, and then reburied in a secret location
by Ugandans opposed to Amin [with great danger to themselves]. It was known to the Ugandans that Amin, with his penchant for ghoulish, cannibalistic behavior, might further desecrate the body of Dora Bloch. This did not happen, due to the quick action of these brave Ugandans. Dora Bloch did receive proper burial later in Israel, after the overthrow of Amin].