Besides being US Independence Day, July 4th has a different significance for Israelis.
It is the anniversary of the raid on Entebbe.
On June 27, Air France Flight 139 departed Tel Aviv for Paris with a stop in Athens. Shortly after taking off from Greece, the plane was hijacked by two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two Germans from the Revolutionary Cells. The terrorists directed the plane to land and refuel at Benghazi, Libya before continuing on to pro-Palestinian Uganda. Landing at Entebbe, the terrorists were reinforced by three more extremists and were welcomed by dictator Idi Amin.
After moving the passengers into the airport terminal, the terrorists released the majority of the hostages, keeping only the Israelis and Jews. The Air France air crew elected to remain behind with the captives. From Entebbe, the terrorists demanded the release of 40 Palestinians held in Israel as well as 13 others held around the world. If their demands were not met by July 1, they threatened to begin killing the hostages. On July 1, the Israeli government opened negotiations in order to gain more time. The following day a rescue mission was approved with Colonel Yoni Netanyahu in command.
On the night of July 3/4, four Israeli C-130 transports approached Entebbe under the cover of darkness. Landing, 29 Israeli commandos unloaded a Mercedes and two Land Rovers hoping to convince the terrorists that they were Amin or another high ranking Ugandan official. After being discovered by Ugandan sentinels near the terminal, the Israelis stormed the building, freeing the hostages and killing the hijackers. As they withdrew with the hostages, the Israelis destroyed 11 Ugandan MiG-17 fighters to prevent pursuit. Taking off, the Israelis flew to Kenya where the freed hostages were transferred to other aircraft.
In all, the Entebbe Raid freed 100 hostages. In the fighting, three hostages were killed, as well as 45 Ugandan soldiers and six terrorists. The only Israeli commando killed was Col. Netanyahu, who was hit by a Ugandan sniper. He was the older brother of future Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Meanwhile, Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story was recently released.