Uganda Tourism Association boss Boniface Byamukama and former Israel commandos and hostages of Entebbe raid Wednesday addressed the media ahead of the 40th anniversary in Kampala.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will come to Uganda for the July 4, event
Byamukama said the ceremony will help sell Uganda’s tourism potential to millions of Jews around the world.
Amir Ofer, one of the Israel commandos who attacked Entebbe Airport and rescued over 100 hostages, reminisced about successful counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission.
The raid was carried out by commandos of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on 4 July 1976 when Uganda was under the leadership of president Idi Amin Dada.
Amir told press at Uganda Media Centre that they had to fly for over 4,000 km in a 7-hour journey from Israel to Entebbe.
They left Israel on July 3rd, 1976 in four planes and landed at Entebbe airport near midnight.
They proceeded to the terminal, shooting dead four hijackers and rescuing the hostages.
In the crossfire, about 20 Ugandan soldiers were also killed.
A week earlier, on 27 June, an Air France plane with 248 passengers had been hijacked by two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – External Operations (PFLP-EO) under orders of Wadie Haddad (who had earlier broken away from the PFLP of George Habash), and two members of the German Revolutionary Cells.
The hijackers had the stated objective to free 40 Palestinian and affiliated militants imprisoned in Israel and 13 prisoners in four other countries in exchange for the hostages.
The flight, which had originated in Tel Aviv with the destination of Paris, was diverted after a stopover in Athens via Benghazi to Entebbe, the main airport of Uganda.
The Ugandan government supported the hijackers, and dictator Idi Amin personally welcomed them.
After moving all hostages from the aircraft to a disused airport building, the hijackers separated all Israelis and several non-Israeli Jews from the larger group and forced them into a separate room.
Over the following two days, 148 non-Israeli hostages were released and flown out to Paris.
Some 94 mainly Israeli passengers, along with the 12-member Air France crew, remained as hostages and were threatened with death.