Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave an emotionally charged speech in the
Knesset on Tuesday, during a special meeting marking the 37th anniversary of the
Entebbe raid – in which his brother Yonatan, who led the operation, was
Netanyahu warned that “the threats we faced 37 years ago
continue, and today I say there is no place the long arm of the State of Israel
cannot reach and will not reach in order to defend the country.”
time of the operation, Netanyahu said, he was studying in the US, and the moment
he heard IDF soldiers had landed in Entebbe, he knew his brother had to be
there, and called his parents.
“This day changed my life and the lives of
my parents and my brother [Ido]. My parents have died since then, but I will
never forget their grief over the fall of their firstborn son,” the prime
Netanyahu also recounted attending a ceremony in Uganda
honoring his brother and the others who fell in the Entebbe operation, saying he
does not take it for granted that a foreign country would honor IDF
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich said Netanyahu must use
Israel’s “long arm” to bring peace.
“Like it or not, you, Netanyahu, are
our leader. Not every leader faces the same challenges,” she
stated. “Just as we need courage to fight terror, courage and wisdom are
needed to maintain a Jewish and democratic state.”
Yacimovich called on
Netanyahu to show the level of courage displayed in the Entebbe raid to ensure
that Israel does not become a binational state and to fulfill the Zionist
The Labor leader repeated her promise to offer support to the
prime minister if he begins peace talks, quoting former prime minister Menachem
Begin, who was opposition leader during the Entebbe raid, as having offered
support to thenprime minister and rival Yitzhak Rabin.
MK Omer Bar-Lev
(Labor), who was a commander in the raid, initiated the special Knesset meeting
and asked Netanyahu to initiate a “social and economic Entebbe
“Today, when social gaps are widening, when we are at a dead
end in peace negotiations, when the Iranians threaten us, we must renew the
spirit of Entebe, the spirit of Zionism,” Bar-Lev said.
“We seem to have
lost our daring, which allowed Zionism reach where it has over the
Bar-Lev added that he would expect a country with so many
successes to be able to make diplomatic progress, and that there should be “no
excuses, just action.”
“We are strong! We need brave leadership that is
determined and takes initiative, and will lead us to our goal: a Jewish and
democratic state,” said the MK. “[Netanyahu] has the historic privilege
of being that leader.”
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, who was Yoni
Netanyahu’s deputy in the Entebbe raid, said the operation helped Israel stand
“We need to have a reason to stand tall today, in every issue with
which we deal. The tests of leadership and action stand today, too,” said
Mofaz. He recalled Yoni Netanyahu as “strong as a rock” and having a decisive
say in the decision to start the operation.
Several other lawmakers spoke
about the Entebbe raid, including MKs Ya’acov Margi (Shas); Shimon Solomon (Yesh
Atid); Yoni Chetboun (Bayit Yehudi), who was named after Yoni
MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu) said the country cannot give
in to terror and called into question the wisdom of releasing terrorists from
prison in exchange for captives.
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