There will be no Entebbe-like operation to save hostages in Gaza, says Eisenkot

There will not be an Entebbe-like operation to save the hostages in Gaza, says war cabinet minister Gadi Eisenkot, a former IDF chief of staff turned lawmaker with the National Unity party.

Speaking with Channel 12’s Uvda investigative program, Eisenkot says a daring rescue like the 1976 operation by an Israeli elite commando squad that saved 98 hostages from Palestinian and German terrorists in Entebbe, Uganda “will not happen.”

The terrorists hijacked an Air France jet flying from Tel Aviv to Paris on June 27, 1976, diverting to Entebbe airport in Uganda, where the hijackers were welcomed by dictator Idi Amin. The legendary, storied mission claimed the lives of four hostages and that of Yoni (Yonatan) Netanyahu, brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who led the rescue squad.

Eisenkot says the hostages taken by Hamas terrorists during the shock onslaught on October 7 are “spread out in such a way,” mainly underground, that the “probability after Ori Megidish, is extremely low.”

Pvt. Ori Megidish was rescued in late October by the IDF and the Shin Bet, days after Israel launched its ground operation in the Gaza Strip. She remains the only hostage of the remaining 132 abductees taken on October 7 to have been rescued through a military operation.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 27 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza. In late November, 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce. Four hostages were released before that. The bodies of eight hostages have also been recovered and three hostages were mistakenly killed by the military in a tragic incident last month.

Troops “are still making every effort and looking for every opportunity [to save hostages] but the likelihood is low, and to say that [it’ll happen] is a delusion,” says Eisenkot, whose son and nephew were killed fighting in Gaza last month.

“It needs to be said, bravely, that…it’s not possible to return the hostages, alive, in the near term, without a deal,” he says, blasting “anyone who is trying to sell fantasies to the public.”

Eisenkot says a pause to the fighting in Gaza “for a certain amount of time” will likely be required as part of any potential deal, pointing to the weeklong agreement secured in late November in which 105 civilians were freed from Hamas.

He says the next pause will likely be longer “by three or four times but after that, the war objectives will still be in effect.”

Eisenkot’s National Unity party agreed to join Netanyahu’s coalition on an emergency basis in a demonstration of political unity after the October 7 terror onslaught.

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