Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to visit African nations for the upcoming 40th anniversary of an Israeli operation which freed hostages on board an Air France plane at Uganda’s Entebbe airport and which led to the death of his brother, who led the Israeli commandos who carried put the rescue operation.
His tour will be the first by an Israeli leader to Africa in 50 years.
“I’ve received an invitation from the President of Kenya and from others to come and visit Africa,” Netanyahu told ambassadors from African nations, according to a statement issued by his office.
“I intend to do so around the 40th anniversary of the raid at Entebbe (on July 4, 1976) that was for us a very dramatic national experience. For me, obviously, one of great personal consequence.”
A spokesman for Netanyahu was unable to give details on which countries he would travel to other than Kenya.
Netanyahu met Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Jerusalem last week. The two leaders signed a joint statement focusing on water and agricultural issues, promoting nilateral co-operation and establishing a Joint Bilateral Committee.
Netanyahu’s brother, Yonatan, was killed in the commando raid in Entebbe to free passengers on board the Air France plane hijacked in Athens by Palestinians while en route from Tel Aviv to Paris and was ordered to fly to Entebbe with 250 passengers aboard, among them 85 Israeli nationals.
By the time the commandoes arrived, all non-Israeli passengers had been released by the hijackers, leaving about 100 Israelis, including the crew members, aboard. The hostages were freed in the raid but 20 Ugandan soldiers and seven hijackers were killed, along with several Ugandan citizens.
The lone casualty among the Israeli assault team was Netanyahu’s brother, who headed the operation.
One of the hostages, a 75-year-old Israeli woman who had been transferred to a hospital, was subsequently killed on the orders of then Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
Netanyahu said Monday that beyond marking the anniversary of the operation, the visit would allow Israel to further improve ties with African nations, particularly on security issues.