2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2007
Jonathan (Yoni) Netenyahu was a 30 year old distinguished and well respected soldier, the Commanding Officer of "the Unit" which stood for General Staff Reconnaissance Unit in Israel. They were a key force in defending Israel against its enemies. Iddo Netenyaho, the author of this book was in the reserves when the events in this book took place. The book is about the daring rescue of airline passengers held captive by Arab and German terrorists in Entebbe, Uganda which took place on July 4, 1976. As missions go, it was an overwhelming success ... with only one casualty. The book is based on meticulous research, such as over seventy taped interviews of participants in the raid, radio interviews, and statements made by reserve members at a ten year commemorative meeting of the mission. The book reads like a suspense-filled novel. Drew Middleton,a military analyst for the New York Times, calls this military action/rescue the first of its kind. Unfortunately, Yoni the Commander and leader, was shot right when his team was about to deploy in front of the building of the large hall. The team members did as instructed by their Commander during the drills, they continued with the assault and would treat the injured afterwards. By the time Yoni received help from a doctor, it was clear he had suffered massive blood loss from internal injuries. Despite life-saving interventions out in the field, the situation became hopeless and he died.
Iddo Netenyahu provides fascinating insights into his brother's personality and character by interspersing recollections of family events, describing what his brother told him, and quoting excerpts of letters written at different times in his life. What makes this book so interesting is that the author provides a glimpse of the human side of his brother, a fallen hero and brave leader in Israel's fight against terrorism. Yoni often looked at the larger picture of life and was in touch with his feelings. Yoni's dedication and committment to being a career soldier is obvious. The author discovered the very high regard and deep respect held for Yoni by fellow soldiers and superiors. He was one of those leaders who inspire others to action, leading by example not just the spoken word. He remained focused despite the uncertainties which lay ahead. He kept the soldiers calm as they waited for the "go ahead".
It was Israel policy to not negotiate with terrorists. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin collaborated with high level Israel Defense Force officials as well as the head of the Mossad before granting approval for this unprecedented action. Initially, Ehud Barak, former Commander of the unit who was chosen to lead the assault due to his extensive experience with previous special operations activities involving a hijacked airline and nightime raids in Beirut. As Commanding Officer, Yoni helped plan the operations and actions of the five assault teams. Later Ehud was assigned to cover operations in Kenya, which opened the field for Yoni to assume full responsibilty for key decisions associated with the assault.
The hijacking occurred on June 27, 1976. The terrorists gave a deadline to free 53 terrorists held in captivity by several countries or they they would begin executing passengers. Despite only a few days notice, within 48 hours the best and most capable men of the Israeli Defense Forces were trained to do the most daring rescue ever conceived for freeing hostages held by terrorists and they succeeded. This book provides an insider's view of the complex planning and decision making associated with a surprise attack and daring rescue. As such, it is filled with many details which may overwhelm some readers. The covert military rescue operation was brought to a successful conclusion but if it had failed: the Minister of Defense, Yitzhak Rabin and his cabinet were prepared to resign. At the end, one is overjoyed that all the passengers were safely rescued ... yet, there remains lingering sadness that Israel lost one of its finest soldiers and leaders. Erika Borsos [pepper flower]