Learning from Entebbe

They call it the IDF’s most daring military operation – I call it an important political lesson.


To those who are unfamiliar, Entebbe is an international airport in Uganda that served as the site of a hostage crisis in 1976, where Palestinian militants – aided by German separatists and the Ugandan government – took a large number of Jewish and Israeli citizens hostage, threatening to kill them if their demands were not met by the Israeli government. Unwilling to comply with terrorist demands, the IDF chose to deploy nearly 100 commandos in a dramatic raid that was to become the most successful hostage rescue operation in history.

Click here to read more on the IDF’s military operation in Entebbe, dubbed “Operation Thunderbolt

While the mission was an astounding tactical success, with all hostages held at the airport rescued and only one IDF casualty – Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, elder brother of incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – it continues to serve as a defining example of why Israel is currently in the middle of a bloody conflict with Gazan militants.

The incidents at Entebbe showed Israel – and the world – for the first time that enemies of the Jewish homeland were malevolent and, indeed, stupid, enough to employ terrorists to inflict harm onto Israeli land, sovereignty and citizens. Idi Amin – the Muslim dictator of Uganda – personally welcomed the terrorists to Entebbe airport and ensured that they received complete support from the Ugandan army.

Now the obvious question is – what kind of world leader would do this? What kind of leader would treat ruthless terrorists as close, lifelong, friends?

The answer is simple – Desperate leaders.

The greatest lesson one can garner from the incidents at Entebbe is that Israel’s military prowess is too great for her enemies to defeat using conventional methods of warfare. Today, more than ever, Israel’s enemies employ third party actors and even terrorists to make a dent on Israel’s name.

From Hamas in Gaza to Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Arab states continue to wage proxy wars against Israel for fear that they would lose a direct war with Israel. States as small as Bahrain and as large as Iran all have the same modus operandi – don’t fight Israel, but fund those who can.

This single policy is why so many innocent men, women and children have lost their lives in the Gaza strip. The security of the Palestinian people is seen as less important to Arab leaders than the funding of Hamas. Providing weapons to terrorists just to spite Israel has become a greater priority to them than ensuring the safety of countless innocent Gazans.

I find it appalling to realise that there are more arms and ammunitions from Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states on their way to Gaza right now, than food, clothing, and medical supplies. The only reasonable conclusion from this fact is that, while Arab monarchs may cry for Gaza, they don’t care if Gaza is turned to ashes. To them, dead Palestinians are political capital – that can be used to smear Israel’s international image – and nothing more. The sole objective for most Arab states is the obliteration of Israel, and the plight of the Palestinians is only a tool that they choose to employ towards this end.

It is incredibly easy to blame Israel for these deaths – but would there even be a war if Hamas did not exist? Would so many have died on both sides if Hamas was not so well funded and armed by the Arab states? Would Palestinian mothers lose their beloved children if Arab leaders cared more for them than Hamas?

As the death toll in Gaza reaches the thousands, I grieve for the innocents who have died because of the arrogance and narrow mindedness of men (women cannot rule in the Arab states) with too much oil money, and not enough wisdom.

About the Author
Aditya Karkera is an Indian freelance writer. He is a blogger at The Huffington Post, contributing writer to the Times Of India and a Yale Young Global Scholar of Grand Strategy.