Hero of Entebbe: Yoni Netanyahu

He led the Special Forces team.

Jonathan “Yoni” Netanyahu was born in New York City in 1946, but like his parents and siblings, his heart in the Holy Land.

Yoni was a standout student at Harvard, who left to fight in the Israeli army. He achieved heroic distinction in the wars of 1967 and 1973.

His greatest achievement, however, was the epic raid on Entebbe on July 4, 1976 .

A week earlier, terrorists had hijacked an Air France flight that originated in Israel, and diverted it to Entebbe, Uganda, where President Idi Amin welcomed the gunmen with open arms.

Non-Jewish passengers were immediately freed, while over 100 Jews were imprisoned and threatened with death unless a large number of terrorists were freed in Israel.

Yoni Netanyahu led a special forces team into Uganda with pinpoint planning and immense daring. Their transport plane carried a Mercedes limo and Land Rover escorts that simulated Idi Amin’s entourage. Using this subterfuge, they gained access to the building where the hostages were imprisoned.

While taking intense enemy fire, Yoni’s men killed all the terrorists, and several Ugandan guards. Five Israeli commandos were wounded, and three hostages were killed in the crossfire.

Every other hostage was rescued, and all the Israeli commandos made it back to their transport.

Their daring leader Yoni was first in and last out. Tragically, he was shot in the chest and died in the arms of a fellow soldier.

Yoni Netanyahu received a hero’s funeral when he was buried the next day on Mt. Herzl.

Learn more about Yoni and Operation Entebbe: http://www.yoni.org.il/en/jonathan.php

Note: Yoni is far from forgotten by anyone in our community over a certain age. I remember the tremendous pride we felt in New York, when we awoke on the morning of America’s Bicentennial to learn that he and his men had carried out the greatest rescue in history. It is for the sake of the younger generation that I include Yoni’s story here.

Meet other inspiring heroes!

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