Speaking from the place where the Israeli army rescued 83 Jewish hostages 40 years ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni vowed to continue fighting terrorism, just as the Israeli army did during Operation Entebbe.
“Forty years ago, they landed in the dead of night, in a country led by a brutal dictator who gave refuge to terrorists,” said Netanyahu, referring to some of the same soldiers who were present at the ceremony. “Today, we landed in broad daylight in a friendly country led by a president who fights terrorists.”
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, whose country continues to face threats from regional terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, expressed his commitment to stand with Israel in the continued fight against terrorism.
“On the side of terrorism, we are together,” stressed Museveni. “We stand against terrorism on principle.”
In that vein, Netanyahu asserted that Operation Entebbe was not only a victory for the Jewish world and the State of Israel, but also for the global community.
“Entebbe was more than an Israeli victory,” Netanyahu said. “It was a victory for all of humanity in the fight against those who threaten our common civilization.
“When terrorism succeeds in one place, it spreads to other places, and when terrorism is defeated anywhere, it is weakened everywhere,” he added. “We must recognize that the battle against [terrorism] is indivisible.”
According to President Museveni, that spirit of indivisibility already existed in Uganda during Operation Entebbe, among the many Ugandans who were opposed to Idi Amin’s regime. Amin, then the dictator of Uganda, had ties with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and with the German terrorist group Revolutionary Cells, both of which coordinated the hijacking of the Air France airliner flying from Tel Aviv to Paris and the holding of 83 of its Jewish passengers as hostages.
“We had opposed Amin right from the beginning because we knew as patriots that Amin would head in the wrong direction,” President Museveni said. “Fortunately, Amin’s illiterate army had no discipline to deploy properly.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu urged the global community to fight terrorism as the Israeli army had done in Entebbe 40 years ago.
“Today, in this place where free people delivered a devastating blow to the forces of terror, we and all the civilized nations must rededicate ourselves to the spirit of Entebbe, a spirit of daring and resolve, a spirit of courage and fortitude, a spirit that is determined as ever to defeat terror and to secure our common future,” he said.
During a regional counter-terrorism summit in Uganda yesterday that Netanyahu also attended, African leaders from Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia communicated their willingness to do so.
“Forty years after the historic hostage rescue operation at Entebbe Airport, the world continues to face the threat of international terrorism,” the summit’s joint declaration read in part. “The need to unite with regional and global partners in fighting this scourge is more important than ever.”
The declaration added: “At today’s summit, the leaders committed their countries to enhancing their cooperation in the fight against terror by sharing intelligence and utilizing new technologies, including in the sphere of cyber security.”