On July the 4th 1976 I was 13 years old and was living in a young country, only 28 years old, with a massive history of wars and terrorist attacks upon its civilians. As a mature child I was helping my mother on our way back home. Then, we heard the news - the Israeli military commandos rescued in a heroic operation more then one hundred Jewish hostages who where kidnapped with their aircraft, Air France flight number 139 from Tel Aviv to Paris after stopover in Athens, to Entebbe, Uganda. You can imagine the spark which enlightened on my mind and heart.
On the evening the news were spread all over the world and the anonymous Israeli special military unit came out to the public with its name - "The Sayeret" or "Sayeret Madkal". A military unit which is similar to the British SAS regiment. Only few knew that the Israeli Mossad had also a crucial part in this operation. Two month ago a curator called Avner opened an official exhibition of the Israeli Mossad at the Rabin center in Tel Aviv about the "Entebbe Operation". On his last two years in the Mossad, after long and rich years of field activities, Avner became the curator of the Mossad and succeeded to bring some of its activities to the public. He was also the curator of the exhibition which presented the capture of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Argentina by the Mossad, and more.
I was invited to the opening evening of the "Entebbe Operation" by the participation of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, whose brother, the late Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu ("Yoni") was the commanding officer of the "Sayeret" at that time and was killed on the beginning of the operation, and with the head of the Mossad, Tamir Pardo, who was Yonatan's signal operator during the operation, and many other distinguish guests.
Looking at the photos, the maps, the equipment and some of the commandos who arrived to the event, not young as they were on 1976, I felt very proud. They flew on four c-154 military aircrafts almost 4,000 kilometers in order to accomplish the mission and came back almost with all the hostages, accept three who were killed during the battle and a lady who was taken earlier to the hospital and was executed to death by the order of Idi Amin Dada, the ruler of Uganda at that time.
Today, there is no doubt that the success of this operation was due of the excellent intelligence which was given by the Mossad field agents to the "Sayeret" and all the other army units which participated in the operation. As a chilled I learned three important lessons out of this operation:
One - there's almost nothing that a man can't achieve when life is on risk.
Second - we are one of the best when it comes to army and intelligence.
Third - when you have a mission to accomplish you need to have an excellent intelligence.
In Entebbe the soldiers knew exactly where to go and whom they were suppose to fight against. They came with a disguise of Ugandan uniforms and used a black Mercedes car which was painted in Israel and was typical like the ones Idi Amin used while traveling in Uganda. They knew how many terrorists were on the ground and where the hostages were kept. They even knew that the hostages were selected by the terrorists for being Jews and kept in another room which was blocked by a wooden board. A sketch describing the door with the wooden board was drawn by the help of one of the foreign passengers who were on the aircraft and was released and was interrogated by the Mossad field agents in Paris.
Even today this operation is still capturing the imagination and constitutes as an example of a brilliant army operation. The exhibition is open now to the public in Rabin center in Tel Aviv for a whole one year. The visitors can be impressed of the exhibits and maybe to chance upon former Mossad agents as well. For me it was a closure while remembering the model I built as a chilled and the plays I was plying with it until I joint the Israeli army and fulfilled my duty.