On July 4, 1976, while the United States was celebrating its bicentennial, a small group of Israeli Special Operations troops was carrying out one of the most brilliant hostage rescue operations in history. 

Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan “Yoni” Netanyahu — the brother of the incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — was the Commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, which was tasked with conducting the hostage rescue part of the operation. The overall task force included Sayeret Matkal, as well as Air Force pilots, Israeli Paratroopers, Golani infantrymen, Medical Corps personnel, and a refueling team.

Netanyahu and Israeli commandos from the Sayeret Matkal, known to the soldiers in it as only the “Unit,” stormed the Ugandan airport at Entebbe. There, they freed more than 105 Jewish hostages and the crew of the Air France flight that had been hijacked by a combined force of terrorists. At the airport, the Israelis also had to face Ugandan troops that had gone along with the terrorists.

However, one of the stranger aspects of this operation is the fact that if one were to read 10 different accounts of the battle, the reader would come away with 10 different perspectives of how the operation went down. So, which is the correct or the most correct version of the incredible events that transpired on the first days of July 1976?  

One thing that is universally agreed upon is that the raid was a brilliantly executed special operation and that only one Israeli soldier, LTC Yoni Netanyahu, was killed along with three of the hostages. Another Israeli paratrooper was paralyzed by a gunshot wound to his neck and another hostage, Dora Bloch, who was taken to a hospital prior to the Israeli raid, was murdered by Ugandan soldiers on the orders of the country’s dictator Idi Amin. But from there, all of the stories begin to differ, some slightly, others very much so.

There was a movement right after the raid, which gained ground from the press some years following the raid, to change the narrative of not only how the raid was planned but how it was conducted. One officer, Muki Betser, has been trying to say that it was he and not Yoni who planned the Unit’s operation since, during the raid’s planning phase, Netanyahu was involved in active operations in the Sinai.  

LTC Yoni Netanyahu shortly before the raid on Entebbe.

With the political situation in Israel being much like it is everywhere else, some members of the media, who are very much against the current Prime Minister, took great delight in tweaking him by repeating the version that discredits the PM’s family name and legacy.

In trying to uncover what truly happened, SOFREP went to Iddo Netanyahu, the third Netanyahu brother and also a former commando. Iddo is the author of Sayeret Matkal at Entebbe the best after-action review done by anyone, including the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).