A visibly moved Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft during his visit to the historic airport,
standing at the spot where Lt -Col. Yonatan Netanyahu was shot

In November this year, Ugandans and Israelis, as well as a delegation from South Africa, will be coming together to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of one of the most famous episodes in the ongoing saga of the war against international terrorism, the Israeli raid on Entebbe Airport. On 4 July 1976 Israeli commandos, lead by Lt-Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu, successfully stormed the airport to rescue over a hundred mainly Jewish hostages held by pro-Palestinian hijackers supported by the Ugandan army. Netanyahu, who was fatally wounded during the attack, was the only Israeli casualty, while all six hijackers and dozens of Ugandan soldiers, as well as three of the hostages, were killed.

Participants in the November commemoration will include former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, brother of Yonatan. During his visit, he will deliver a lecture on international terrorism at Kampala University.

The devastated airport was never rebuilt by the Ugandan administration of the time and instead a new terminal building was erected. The present Ugandan government, on the initiative of President Yoweri Museveni, has now embarked on a comprehensive conservation project, including converting some of the original buildings into a museum. The latter will include the terminal where the hostages were held and the original control tower. Another feature will be an eight foot-high plaque telling the story of the famous episode raid and bearing the Israeli and Ugandan flags. Other neighboring buildings will be demolished to make way for a new hotel to accommodate visitors to the site.

One of the members of both the airport restoration and 30th anniversary commemoration committees is Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, Spiritual Leader to the African Jewish Congress. Rabbi Silberhaft was in Kampala last week, where he met with members of the local organizing committee and with Emanuel Siri, Israeli Ambassador to Nairobi who is also responsible for Uganda. He said that he had been particularly moved by his visit to the historic airport, where he stood at the spot where Yonatan Netanyahu was shot.

While in Kampala, Rabbi Silberhaft also addressed the 37 members of the local Jewish community. All of the latter are Israeli businessmen temporarily located in the country. They do not have any formal community structure, but come together for Yamim Tovim and Yom Ha'atzma'ut.