Operation Thunderbolt: Was the 1976 ‘raid on Entebbe’ a brilliant rescue?

The 'raid on Entebbe' is widely hailed as a tactical masterstroke. Yet, argues Saul David, the success of the Israeli operation to free more than 100 hostages in 1976 owed as much to luck as judgment...

An Israeli pilot after the raid on Entebbe

This article was first published in the August 2015 issue of BBC History Magazine

On 3 July 1976, Israeli commandos carried out a daring raid to free more than 100 hostages held by pro-Palestinian terrorists at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. Ever since, the raid has been portrayed by Israelis and others as a brilliantly planned and perfectly executed hostage rescue. Yet a close study of top-secret documents and interviews with key participants reveals a very different picture: of a mission almost derailed by political and military infighting, and one whose ultimate success was heavily contingent on luck.

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