ISRAELI PM PLANS AFRICAN VISIT TO MARK 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF ENTEBBE HOSTAGE DRAMA

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to visit African nations for the upcoming 40th anniversary of an Israeli operation which freed hostages aboard a highjacked aircraft at Entebbe airport in Uganda and which led to the death of his brother.

"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 from his office.

"I intend to do so around the 40th anniversary of the raid at Entebbe that was for us a very dramatic national experience. For me, obviously, one of great personal consequence."

Netanyahu's brother, Yonatan, was killed in the July 1976 commando raid at Entebbe to free passengers on board the Air France plane hijacked by Palestinians.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni with the then Israeli Minister of Finance Ben Netanyahu were at Old Entebbe Airport in July 2005 during the commemoration of the Israeli raid at ntebbe in 1976.

The plane, en route from Tel Aviv to Paris, was hijacked in Athens and ordered to fly to Entebbe with 250 passengers on board, among them 85 Israeli nationals.

By the time the commandos arrived, all non-Israeli passengers had been released by the hijackers, leaving about 100 Israelis and 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 Uganda's then-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.

A spokesman for Netanyahu was unable to give details on which countries he would travel to other than Kenya, whose President Uhuru Kenyatta visited Israel last week.

Source: NEW VISION

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