Binyamin and Sarah Netanyahu
Binyamin and Sarah NetanyahuKobi Gideon/GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrived at Entebbe, Uganda, this afternoon (Monday) to take part in the ceremony marking the 40-year anniversary of the famous Entebbe operation, in which the IDF rescued hostages taken from a hijacked flight by terrorists. The hijacked plane was redirected and flown to the airport in Entebbe, where the hostages were held until they were rescued. Netanyau's brother, Yonatan (often called 'Yoni"), led the daring operation, and was killed in action. The operation is now often referred to as "Operation Yonatan", in his memory. 

The Prime Minister spoke of the significance of Entebbe to the Israel generally, and to him personally.

"I feel humbled standing here as the Prime Minister of Israel, I am humbled standing here in the place where IDF soldiers rescued the hostages, in the heart of Africa, thousands of Miles from Israel. I feel honored standing here with men who took part in the mission itself," Netanyahu said. 

"I am honored and humbled standing here in the very spot where my brother Yoni, commander of the IDF's most elite unit, was killed while leading his men into battle to free the hostages," the Prime Minister added, "Here, in the place where the old terminal stood, members of our nation were taken hostage by cruel terrorists. It was here that our fighters pulled off a rare operation, almost unprecedented in military history."    

Netanyahu then addressed the former pilots and soldiers in attendance at the event who had taken part in the operation. "Every one of you who flew here to Entebbe, those who are here today and those who aren't, flew out to the mission without knowing whether he'd return. You came on a rescue mission, but you knew that if something went wrong, no one was coming to rescue you. In spite of this, you fought for the privilege of earning a spot on the plane flying out.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the contributions of all who had been involved in orchestrating the mission from home, including the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, then Defense Minister Shimon Peres, Chief of Staff Motta Gur, the commanders of the military units involved in the operation and his brother Yoni. 

"When Yoni died our world went dark," Netanyahu remembered, "There is almost no day that passes without me thinking about what would have happened had I done things differently at the time; it's possible Yoni wouldn't have joined the unit and therefore wouldn't have gone to Entebbe. Bereavement hit us hard. It has hit me, my family, the families of captured soldiers and civilians, and it continues to hit many families in Israel, and yet the power of life propels us forward, though the scars always remain, scars left not only by bereavement."

"Operation Yonatan has become a symbol of the fight against terror, it showed Israel has the power to stand up for itself and dealt a serious blow to terrorism," Netanyahu added, "we must present a united front against terror."