The Defense Ministry released recordings of Shimon Peres speaking to security personnel who rescued Israeli hostages in the daring 1976 Entebbe military raid, in honor of the one-year anniversary of the elder statesman’s death last year at age 93.
Peres, who was then defense minister, is heard in the recordings greeting survivors of the hostage crisis as they landed back in Israel following the rescue, as well as members of Sayeret Matkal who took part in the raid, telling them, “You left a very worried country and came back to a very proud country.”
The hostages, rescuers and the French flight crew aboard the hijacked Air France flight from Israel to Paris, arrived in Israel on July 5 that year after being rescued a day earlier in a daring raid by a group of some 100 Israeli commandos, led by future Israel Defense Forces chief-of-staff Dan Shomron, Maj. Gen. Yekutiel Adam, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Peled and Lt. Col. Yonatan (Yoni) Netanyahu. The plane was diverted first to Athens and then made its way to Uganda where the hostages were held at the Entebbe airport for days.
The daring rescue operation resulted in 103 out of the 106 hostages being brought back alive and only one fatality among the Israeli forces — Yonatan Netanyahu.
Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli leader assassinated in 1995 by an extremist Jew, and who was the prime minister in 1976, can also be heard in the recordings speaking to the crew of the French flight, who had volunteered to stay with the Jewish hostages, telling them that Israel “greatly appreciates they way you cared for them under the difficult circumstances.”
In the audio, Peres hears the stories of those rescued and their ordeals and then addresses security personnel saying, “You’ve taken risks greater than you probably know” and telling them to rest and that he and the whole country was very proud of them.