Operation Entebbe was a counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission carried out by commandos of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on July 4, 1976.
A week earlier, on June 27, an Air France plane with 248 passengers was hijacked, by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the German Revolutionary Cells, and flown to Entebbe, the main airport of Uganda. The local government supported the hijackers and dictator Idi Amin personally welcomed them. The hijackers separated the Israelis and Jews from the larger group and forced them into another room. That afternoon, 47 non-Israeli hostages were released. The next day, 101 more non-Israeli hostages were allowed to leave on board an Air France aircraft. More than 100 Israeli and Jewish passengers, along with the non-Jewish pilot Captain Bacos, remained as hostages and were threatened with death.
The IDF acted on intelligence provided by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The hijackers threatened to kill the hostages if their prisoner release demands were not met. This threat led to the planning of the rescue operation. These plans included preparation for armed resistance from Ugandan military troops.
The operation took place at night. Israeli transport planes carried 100 commandos over 2,500 miles (4,000 km) to Uganda for the rescue operation. The operation, which took a week of planning, lasted 90 minutes. 102 hostages were rescued. Five Israeli commandos were wounded and one, the unit commander, Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, was killed. All the hijackers, three hostages and 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed, and thirty (some say 11) Soviet-built MiG-17s and MiG-21s of Uganda’s air force were destroyed. Kenyan sources supported Israel, and in the aftermath of the operation Idi Amin issued orders to retaliate and slaughter several hundred Kenyans present in Uganda.
Operation Entebbe, which had the military codename Operation Thunderbolt, is sometimes referred to retroactively as Operation Jonathan in memory of the unit’s leader, Yonatan Netanyahu. He was the older brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister of Israel.