The recent State Visit by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta to Israel is thought to have been instrumental to get Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assurance that he will visit East Africa for the 40th anniversary of the Entebbe Raid on July 4, 1976.
Those were dark days in Uganda, when Dictator Idi Amin Dada, aka the Butcher of Uganda, sided openly with terrorists who had flown a hijacked Air France aircraft to Entebbe airport, where they thought they were safe from repercussions.
The aircraft, enroute from Tel Aviv to Paris on flight AF139, was hijacked in Athens on the 27th of June 1976 and subsequently flown to Uganda, where the 248 passengers and 12 crew were detained. Terrorists from the PLO and at least two German terrorists from the Bader Meinhof Red Army Faction group demanded the release of convicted and on trial Palestinian terrorists held in Israel and more held in other countries. The hijackers, personally welcomed by Dictator Idi Amin at the airport, then separated the hostages by nationalities, and while some 148 were released over subsequent days did they keep hostage the nearly 100 Israelis and Air France crew under appalling conditions. Threatening to kill them one by one should their demands not be met did this trigger crisis meetings by the cabinet in Israel where the intelligence services and army commandos then planned a daring raid to rescue their fellow countrymen and women.
Kenya played a crucial role in providing logistics in Nairobi for the raid, giving access to airspace and ground facilities, which later led to the killing for former Kenyan Minister Bruce McKenzie, whose plane was blown up on the 24th May 1978. A bomb was planted in his plane when he was on an official mission for President Jomo Kenyatta to Uganda, and a delayed trigger mechanism saw the plane explode over the Ngong Hills while on final approach to Wilson Airport in Nairobi, instead having it vanish in Lake Victoria as Amin’s regime had planned.
The raid on Entebbe in the wee hours of the 04th of July 1976 was successful but cost the Netanyahu family dearly, as the only Israeli casualty was raid commander Lt.Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, the late brother to the current Prime Minister of Israel.
Sadly though did Amin then order the retaliation killing of an ill Israeli hostage, Dora Bloch, who had been taken to Mulago Hospital in Kampala due to her deteriorating condition. She was after the raid dragged from her hospital bed by Amin’s henchmen and never seen alive again. Reportedly did some of her doctors and nursing staff also suffer death at the hands of the Amin regime for attempting to intervene. Dozens of Kenyans living in Uganda also faced Amin’s wrath and were killed as the Dictator lashed out at Kenya over the support accorded to the Israeli rescue mission.
Netanyahu visited Entebbe 10 years ago on invitation of President Museveni, to honour his fallen hero brother and while no official confirmation has been received as yet is it expected that the Prime Minister will combine his visit to Kenya with a trip to Uganda to participate in the 40th anniversary memorial service.
In closing, this leaves Idi Amin Dada, the Butcher of Uganda, entirely discredited and exposed for who he really was, a friend of terrorists and a terrorist himself.
Attempts over the past two years by sections of the Ugandan media and individuals with a hidden agenda and ulterior motives, to ‘rehabilitate’ his negative image must be sharply condemned for trying to re-write history and sweep Amin’s state terrorism, cruelty and killings under the carpet.
In Memoriam of both Lt. Colonel Yonatan Netantahu, Bruce McKenzie, Dora Bloch and many others killed in revenge for the successful raid by the Amin regime!