One or two readers have questioned my assertion that the film Raid on Entebbe was authentic. So I bought Israel’s Lightening Strike by Simon Dunstan. Apart from the singing of We Are All Brothers Now by the commandos in the plane, which has been questioned, the detail was correct in every respect, even the unlikely confrontation between head terrorist Wilfred Bose and hostage Joseph Cooper, who dissuaded him from throwing a grenade into the civilians.
Perhaps more interesting is what was omitted. The Israeli government has never released its papers, but it’s widely thought there was a fourth aircraft for refuelling. Apart from killing Dora Bloch, Idi Amin murdered 3,000 Kenyan tribesmen resident in Uganda as the Kenyans permitted the Israelis to land and refuel. The Entebbe air traffic controllers were brutally treated: one had nails drilled in his head, the other pulverised by a sledgehammer. The Israelis were widely condemned for breach of a sovereign airspace, but Chaim Hezog delivered an eloquent defence at the United Nations:
“I am in no way sitting in the dock as an accused party. I stand here as an accuser of this rotten, brutal, cynical, bloodthirsty monster of international terrorism“.
The margins between success and failure are always slight. On the journey home to Israel, one lady hostage remarked “What is this military thing I’m sitting on?”
It was a grenade that could have blown up the plane.