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Operation Entebbe

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Operation Entebbe   >   What Happened   >   Background

   
 

Background to the Raid on Entebbe


On June 27th 1976, an Air France Airbus A300 which was travelling from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens was hijacked soon after taking-off on the Athens to Paris leg of the flight. On board were 246 passengers and 12 crew. The hijackers were two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - External Operations (PFLP-EO) and two Germans from the "Revolutionary Cells" (RZ).

The plane was diverted to Benghazi, Libya, where it stayed on the ground for seven hours before eventually being refueled, and taking-off again. During the stop in Benghazi, one female hostage who was pregnant, was released.

The aircraft then went to Entebbe Airport in Uganda where three additional terrorists joined the hijackers. Uganda's President, Idi Amin, was sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, and his military forces were deployed effectively in support of the terrorists.

The terrorists demanded the release of 40 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, as well as others held in France, Germany, Switzerland and Kenya. They threatened to begin killing hostages on July 1st if their demands were not met. In the meantime, the terrorists held the hostages in the transit hall at Entebbe Airport. The terrorists did eventually release just over half of the passengers, keeping those whom they believed to be Israeli or Jewish.

Led by Captain Michel Bacos, the Air France crew refused to leave, stating that all passengers, including those who were Israeli or Jewish, were their responsibility. A French nun also refused to leave, demanding that one of the remaining hostages take her place, but she was forced on to a waiting Air France plane by Ugandan soldiers.

On July 1st, the Israeli government offered to negotiate with the hijackers in order extend the deadline to July 4th. Simultaneously, preparations were being made for a rescue mission.

  Next > >: Preparation



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