In documents recently released and now sitting in the National Archives in London, D.H. Colvin, a British diplomat working in Paris, wrote that, according to sources he knew, "the hijacking was the work of the PFLP, with help from the Israeli Secret Service, the Shin Bet."
"The operation was designed to torpedo the PLO's standing in France" and to prevent a "growing rapprochement between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Americans," he said. "My contact said the PFLP had attracted all sorts of wild elements, some of whom had been planted by the Israelis. .. . Their [the Israelis'] nightmare is that after the November elections, one will witness the imposition in the Middle East of a Pax Americana, which will be to the advantage of the PLO, who will gain international respectability and perhaps the right to establish a state on evacuated territories and to the disadvantage of Israel, who will be forced to evacuate occupied territory."
The hijacking, or the 'Entebbe Incident' as it is popularly known, gripped the attention of the world for nearly a week at that time. Hijackers seized an Air France plane bound for Paris via Athens shortly after it took off. The plane was diverted first to Benghazi, Libya, where it was refueled before going on to Entebbe, Uganda. In Entebbe, the hijackers released most of the hostages but kept 98 people, most of them Israeli citizens, and threatened to kill them unless Israel met their demands of releasing some 50 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel and in other places around the world.
In a dramatic rescue that has been the subject of several books and at least 4 films, Israeli commandos flew to the airport where shortly thereafter a 36-minute battle was fought with the hijackers and Ugandan soldiers.
In the end, six of the hijackers, 45 Ugandan soldiers, three hostages, and Col. Jonathan Netanyahu (commanding officer of the Israeli commandos and elder brother of Benjamin Netanyahu) were killed.
In the recently released document, the British diplomat went further in his analysis of the event, saying that Israel wanted to poison French opinion with regard to the Palestinian cause, for which the French had traditionally held a certain amount of sympathy. According to his analysis of the situation, Israel wished to make the threat 'implicit but nevertheless clear' that terrorism is something that can happen in Europe just as easily as it happens in the Middle East.
The PFLP said to be responsible for this incident was founded by a Lebanese-educated Palestinian Christian named Dr. George Habash. Unlike the larger, centrist and more nationalistic Fatah movement of the PLO, the PFLP is a far left, Marxist-Leninist movement designated by several governments including that of the United States as a terrorist organization. Since the late 1960s it has been credited with dozens of high-profile events, including hijackings and bombings.
Along with the United States and Britain, Israel has a long and well-established history of assisting individuals and groups said to be responsible for acts of terrorism since the creation of the Jewish state in 1948.
Individuals such as the famed Abu Nidal and groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in the Occupied Territories and now, Fateh-al-Islam operating in Northern Lebanon all have at some point been creatures of Mossad, CIA and MI5 intrigue.
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A former schoolteacher fluent in several languages, Mark Glenn spoke at the AFP-TBR conference on the Middle East panel. He is a prolific writer whose provocative essays have been published worldwide. He and his wife Vicki and their eight children maintain a ranch in northern Idaho. His book, No Beauty in the Beast, can be ordered from TBR BOOK CLUB (1-877-773-9077) for $28 ppd.