Another 4th of July is fast approaching here in Israel. A day which should mean something not only in Israel, but also worldwide, will probably only be mentioned non-stop throughout our media because of its 'anniversary'. It is after all the 30th year since one of history's most daring rescue missions. However, even 30 years later, this event can still play a major role in shaping the world's mentality in pursuing her inalienable rights. During such an uncertain stage in Israel's & the world's war on radical Islam's terror tactics, July 4th should be remembered for the actions of Israel's elite forces during Operation Thunderbolt, otherwise known as the Raid on Entebbe.
A brief overview of the event: Late June 1976, an Air France jet leaves Israel and lands in Athens, where 2 Germans and 2 Arabs board the plane and proceed to hijack it. The plane arrives in Entebbe (Uganda), where the terrorists are joined by more Arabs & friendly Ugandan troops (by orders of the country's president, Idi Amin Dada). The terrorists demanded the release of their imprisoned buddies throughout Europe & Israel. After a few days, all the non-Jews and non-Israelis were released, allowed to return to Paris (an eerie reminder for Israel of the holocaust and the selections). While the world remained silent, Israel planned a daring mission while 'attempting to negotiate'. Late July 3rd, Sayeret Matkal (Israel's most elite unit) with other standout soldiers from various units, left Israel on a 4000 km flight to deal a death blow to terrorism. On July 4th, Israel's forces did the impossible: they rescued all but 4 of the hostages (2 were killed by stray bullets at the terminal, 1 died of his wounds in a Nairobi hospital and Dora Bloch z"l was left behind in a Ugandan hospital, where she was murdered by Ugandan troops) and one soldier, the commander of Sayeret Matkal, Yonatan Netanyahu z"l. Israel had once again stood up to terror, refusing to allow it to dictate her policies.
The significance and importance of such an accomplishment should be stressed in light of worldwide events in the last few years. Islamic terror has killed thousands of innocent civilians since 2000, and while their numbers, supporters & strength only grow stronger, the world's reactions become more and more timid & pathetic. While the US pursues actions (offensives against terror supporting Afghani & Iraqi regimes) that she deems are necessary to protect her citizens, way too many countries refuse to react. When Spain suffered a devastating attack which killed 191 people, their reaction was to change PM and withdraw all their troops from Iraq. Wonder what the terrorists learned from that mission?!?!? (Perhaps something along the lines of: kill civilians, get what you want!). When Australia lost 100+ citizens in the attacks on Bali in 2002, the reaction was a few harsh words from PM John Howard and since then, very little else. After the introduction of suicide bombing on buses in London, England's reaction also left much to be desired. While radical Muslim activity flourishes in the Balkans (& Europe in general), Northern Africa, the Middle East & Southeast Asia, too little is being done to put obstacles in the terrorists' paths. The inability to act or react is only further strengthening the belief of the terrorists that one day they will win the war against the West.
The rescue at Entebbe stresses the rights of any nation to defend her citizens' right to live and breathe. A day to honor the bravery & excellence of those soldiers would stress a vital point: A country should undertake whatever means it deems necessary to protect her citizens from the threats of terrorism, be it a preemptive strike (for example, the 6 Day War where Israel attacked Arab forces lined up on their borders before they were ready for their attack, hence allowing us to win the war) or by reacting to attacks. A good example of the above are the events surrounding the World Trade Center towers: Bill Clinton should have reacted with force after the first attack in '93 (By that, I don't mean bombing a medicine factory in Sudan) and George W. Bush should have started to act when all the warnings came in before the tragic attacks on 9/11. The free world is in the most vital phase of its war to eliminate radical Islam's terror tactics & allow a moderate & peaceful Islam to flourish. Any hesitation (like we're seeing today with Israel with regards to Hamas) or backtracking will only strengthen the terrorists' resolve to destroy the values most of us take for granted. By commemorating & highlighting the brave actions of the IDF on July 4th, the world would be sending a clear & necessary message to the terror cells of the world: no action taken against the citizens of the free world will go unpunished.