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Tribute to the Entebbe Rescue by the IDF led by Yonatan Netanyahu




Out of the blue on June 14, 2013

I suddenly received an email from David Herman.

Here below is the heartwarming inspiring message

he sent me:


After 35 years I suddenly heard from a long lost friend. 

David Herman


David and I worked on a tribute to Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu and the IDF.  We were moved as everyone was, by the Entebbe Rescue.  David wrote a song as a tribute. I wrote the orchestra arrangement and my trio and I recorded it in a rush at Kolinor Studios in Tel-Aviv.

Since then, years passed and many people may have forgotten about the Entebbe Rescue, and certainly our musical tribute.

This was just after the magnificent rescue mission by commandos of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on July 4, 1976.

A week earlier, on June 27, 1976, an Air France plane with 248 passengers was hijacked by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the German Revolutionary Cells, and flown to Entebbe, near Kampala, the capital of Uganda. The local government supported the hijackers and dictator Idi Amin personally welcomed these terrorists.

The hijackers separated the Israelis and Jews from the larger group Air France passengers and forced them into another room. That afternoon, 47 non-Israeli hostages were released. The next day, 101 additional non-Israeli hostages were allowed to leave on board an Air France aircraft.

But more than 100 Israeli and Jewish passengers, along with the non-Jewish pilot Captain Bacos, remained as hostages and were threatened with death.

The IDF acted on intelligence provided by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The hijackers threatened to kill the hostages if their demands were not met for the release of other Muslim terrorists.

This threat led to the planning of the rescue operation. These plans included preparation for armed resistance from Ugandan military troops.
The operation took place at night. Israeli transport planes carried 100 commandos over 2,500 miles (4,000 km) to Uganda for the rescue operation.

The operation, which took a week of planning, lasted 90 minutes. 102 hostages were rescued. Five Israeli commandos were wounded and one, the commander, Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, was killed.

All the hijackers, three hostages and 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed, and thirty Soviet-built MiG-17s and MiG-21s of Uganda's air force were destroyed.

Operation Entebbe, which had the military codename Operation Thunderbolt, is sometimes referred to retroactively as Operation Jonathan in memory of the unit's leader, Yonatan Netanyahu.

He was the older brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


by David Herman

Yesterday, the eve of Remembrance Day for Israel's 23,000 fallen soldiers in all Israel's wars, turned out to be an unexpectedly amazing, memorable and deeply moving day for me.

A few weeks before that I had learned that the son of my dear friend, the poet Melvyn Millman who died in 2010, worked in the Prime Minister's office and I gave him my only copy of a record made in 1976 of a song I wrote then as a tribute to Yonatan Netanyahu, the Prime Minister's brother who led the Entebbe rescue operation and who was killed in the gun battle to free the Israeli hostages.

The song "The Yonatan Victory March" was recorded by a very fine and well-known group called The Black Diamond Trio with an arrangement by its leader Richard Peritz.

I had forgotten all about the record when I suddenly got a call from the Prime Minister's media aide Eran Ruplidis who said they hoped to present the prime minister with the record and could I come and sing the song to him. Of course, I agreed and began to feverishly rehearse a song I hadn't heard or sang since 1976, and amazingly it came back to me without great effort.

However, after that I didn't hear from Eran and presumed nothing had come of it, until suddenly yesterday morning at about 8:15 am Eran phoned me to say the event was on, and could I be at the Prime Minister's building in the Kiria National Government Complex in Jerusalem by 9.30?

So, armed with my guitar and music stand I was there exactly at 9:30 and for the next half hour had to undergo questioning and examination by the very polite guards to make sure my guitar wasn't a machine gun or some missile. However they had been apprised of my arrival, and just before 10:00 am I was met by Eran, and we rushed to the entrance to the Prime Minister's office waiting for the meeting.

But then my heart sank because the Prime Minister was apparently so busy with urgent political affairs and meetings with his cabinet ministers that he wasn't able to fit me in for a few minutes. Anyhow, Eran in his very pleasant manner, put me at my ease and told me to wait in the hall outside and hopefully we would soon be able to go in to meet the Prime Minister.

So I sat there with my guitar raising quite a few eyebrows and quizzical stares from famous cabinet members who rushed in and out of the Prime Minister's office.

At about 11.30 the Prime Minister himself rushed by with his retinue and very kindly gave me a very rapid handshake before disappearing into his office.

Eran from time to time appeared to make sure I was still waiting in my armchair and time went by and I spent the next three hours rehearsing the song.

By this time I had almost given up hope. Then suddenly at 2 p.m. Eran rushed up and told me to come with him and we and the photographers were ushered into the Prime Minister's office. And in no time I found myself standing next to the Prime Minister, handing him the ancient record and explaining all about it.

And then I sang the song about his brother, standing next to him as he listened visibly moved, after which he thanked me and told me how much the song meant to him, and he shook my hand with his very firm handshake and I wished him much success in dealing with the great challenges facing him.. During the meeting the photographers took photos and also made a video of the singing.






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