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July 04, 2006

Another 4th of July Anniversary

Israel marks 30th anniversary of Raid on Entebbe, the audacious commando op that freed terrorist held in Uganda.

While, perhaps not entirely coincidentally, they plan their next move in the Shalit kidnapping.

"The Entebbe anniversary shows the seriousness with which we attach to freeing our hostages," said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "I think people holding Israeli hostages today should understand that we will do everything we can to bring about the liberation of hostages and, of course, punish those involved in hostage taking."

The crisis began on June 27, 1976, when it became clear an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris had been hijacked by militants from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine after a stopover in Athens. Following a brief refueling in Libya, the plane continued to its final destination, Uganda.

The terrorists separated out the non-Jews and sent the first group to Paris, recalled former Israeli commando Mookie Betzer, the architect of the rescue operation.

Mossad agents paid clandestine visits to the released hostages, hitting the jackpot with a French-Jewish man who was mistakenly released, Betzer told Ynet, the Web site of the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot.

The released hostage, a former officer in the French army, was a "serious guy with a phenomenal memory" who supplied information about the hijackers, their positions and their weaponry, Betzer said.

Betzer's operation included airlifting Land Rovers and dozens of paratroopers to Uganda to free the hostages.

Their chances of success were slim, but they had access to the airport's blueprints β€” provided by the Israeli construction company that had built the terminals β€” information about the hijackers from the released hostages, and aerial photos taken by a Mossad agent just a few hours before the operation was launched, Betzer said.

Slain in action, Lt. Col. Jonathan (Yoni) Netanyahu β€” the older brother of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu β€” became an Israeli icon.

A Frenchman helped? Ah, how the world has changed.

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posted by Ace at 01:44 PM

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