From Entebbe to Gaza City

November 13, 2023

6 min read

On June 27, 1976, Captain Michel Bacos was piloting Air France Flight 139 with 246 passengers from Athens to Paris. Minutes into the flight, two Palestinian Arab and two German terrorists hijacked the flight that originate in Tel Aviv hours while earlier. Bacos was forced at gunpoint to re-route the flight to Benghazi, Libya for refueling, and then to Entebbe, Uganda. 

In Entebbe, the four terrorists were welcomed by Uganda’s dictator, Idi Amin, with Ugandan troops providing support for the terrorists.  Two days later, the terrorists forced all Israeli and Jewish passengers into a separate room.  Eventually they released the 148 non-Jewish passengers. Remarkably, Captain Bacos and his crew remained with the Jewish hostages. On July 4, the hostages were freed following a bold Israeli commando raid known as Operation Entebbe. Captain Bacos took a two-week vacation and requested that his first flight back be to Israel.

A police officer clears the way for rescued Air France hostages returning from Entebbe Airport. (Credit: Moshe Milner)

I was thinking about the Entebbe hijacking and raid recently in context of Hamas kidnapping and taking hostage more than 240 people during their October 7 assault and massacre on Israel. Hamas is a different kind of Palestinian Arab terror group, an Islamist one, but the goals and tactics remain the same: the death and suffering of as many Israelis as possible toward the objective of Israel’s complete annihilation.  

In 1976, terrorists held more than 100 hostages thousands of kilometers away. Today, terrorists hold some 240 hostages, much closer, but in harder to reach underground bunkers and likely not altogether.  A rescue will be more difficult, but Israel is committed to bringing ALL the hostages home. 

The hostages are citizens of at least 27 countries including Israelis.  As Israel faces mounting pressure for a cease fire, terrorists are playing the same game trying to separate the non-Israeli and non-Jewish hostages, holding out as bait to release 2, 10, or maybe 15 of the non-Israelis. 

Entebbe Hostages Freed

The tactic of separating hostages based on their nationality or religion is the same, but must not be allowed to stand this time.  ALL the hostages must be rescued.  If Israel lets the world be played by the terrorists, in no time the world will stop caring about the Israeli and Jewish hostages. How do we know? Because it’s already started.  And sadly, despite the passage of time, the more time passes the more things are really the same. 

One should not be surprised that in the aftermath of the hostage rescue in Entebbe, then UN Secretary General (and former Nazi) Kurt Waldheim said the raid was “a serious violation of the sovereignty of a member state of the United Nations.” 

Taking a page out of the antisemite UN Secretary General handbook, its current occupant, António Guterres, decried the recent violence saying it “does not come in a vacuum” but “grows out of a long-standing conflict, with a 56-year long occupation and no political end in sight.”  Basically, Guterres justified Hamas terror the same way Nazi-Waldheim criticized Israel for rescuing its hostages then. 

In 1976, Captain Bacos received France’s National Order of the Legion of Honour, and his crew also was recognized for their heroism. Then, with little exception, the west widely supported Israel’s operation. France, (West) Germany, Switzerland, the UK, and the United States offered significant praise. Then US Secretary of State Kissinger did criticize Israel for using American hardware and weapons, but that was only revealed later.

Ironically, today, one of the ones leading the pack pressuring Israel for a cease fire under any circumstances is French President Emanuel Macron.  Macron flew to Israel in the days after Hamas’ massacre to show solidarity. But the French president has changed his tune. Though he says France knows what terrorism means, he’s clearly playing to the vast terror base in his own backyard, something that France has allowed to fester to levels that are increasingly dangerous. 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog meets in Jerusalem with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Oct. 24, 2023. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO. (source: JNS)

Macron pivoted from his early support in a recent BBC interview, claiming that there was “no justification” for the bombing, and pontificating that a ceasefire would benefit Israel. “There is no other solution than first a humanitarian pause, going to a ceasefire, which will allow to protect … all civilians having nothing to do with terrorists. Today, civilians are bombed – de facto. These babies, these ladies, these old people are bombed and killed. So there is no reason for that and no legitimacy. So we do urge Israel to stop.”

I suspect that none of Macron’s predecessors ever criticized the Allies bombing of Dresden and other German cities, without which Le France would be speaking German today. 

France has a legacy of retreat so maybe Macron can be excused.  But as pressure grows on Israel from liberated Europe, it’s also painful to see US heating up its rhetoric.  Most recently, current Secretary of State Blinken, told reporters in India, “Far too many Palestinians have been killed; far too many have suffered these past weeks.”  It’s not yet the parroting of Kissinger’s criticism, but it’s a slippery slope, especially with the Hamas wing of his own party claiming that they won’t support President Biden for re-election. Will Biden/Blinken heed to the Hamas wing of their party to stop providing Israel with weapons to defend itself? 

If comments like those of Blinken and Macron are not first pointed at Hamas, repeatedly and clearly without any qualifications for their October 7 massacre and using their own civilians as human shields, they are simply not credible.  But being credible no longer matters when Pallywood mixes up its main characters (terrorists) with the extras (civilians), putting the later at risk no matter the suffering. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the Senate Committee on Appropriations on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 31, 2023. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.

In order to push back on the mounting pressure, an invisible but increasingly strong front against Israel from the west, the Genesis 123 Foundation has launched an international petition to call upon the US, Red Cross, G7, and all countries whose citizens are hostages in Gaza to end pressure for a cease fire and make the first priority to bring home ALL the hostages. 

Its time for all Jews and Christians and all people of conscience everywhere to stand with Israel to defeat Hamas and bring home the hostages.  Pandering to terrorists through a cease fire, ransom, or any other appeasement will just mean more death and suffering.  This will continue in Israel for sure, but is just a moment away from the violent protests against Jews in the west turning on their host countries too. 

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres welcome the hostages from an Air France flight that was hijacked to Entebbe and released by the IDF in the Thunderball operation – in the picture (right to left): Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Ephraim Furen, Minister of Defense, Shimon Peres, and the plane’s captain, Michel Bacos.’ source: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

Through the end of his life, Michel Bacos was recognized as a hero. In 2019, Israel’s national anthem was played at his funeral where he was honored by the mayor of Nice, “Michel, bravely refusing to give in to anti-Semitism and barbarism, did honor to France. The love of France and the defense of liberties have marked his destiny.”

Today is the world’s Bacos moment. Will you stand with Israel to defend itself and bring home the hostages, or appease the terrorists and allow more death and suffering? 

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