Israeli soldiers treat hostages after they were held for a week at Entebbe airport after the highjack of an Air France plane, 1976 (Photo: Getty)
On June 27, 1976, Air France Flight 139 took off from Tel Aviv, Israel, bound for Athens, Greece and eventually Paris. There were 246 passengers and 12 crew members aboard. Not long after the Airbus A-300 plane left Athens, four terrorists–two German nationals and two Palestinians–hijacked Flight 139. They were armed with pistols as well as a grenade with the pin removed, which one of the terrorists held onto as insurance against being attacked or overwhelmed by the passengers.
The hijackers, who were affiliated with the Marxist-leaning terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the equally radical Baader-Meinhof Gang of West Germany, forced the plane to land in Benghazi, Libya, and eventually in Entebbe, Uganda, which was then ruled by dictator Idi Amin. The passengers who were not Israeli nationals were released, but this left over 100 innocent people still in their hands. The terrorists demanded that the Israeli and other western governments release 53 prisoners held in Israel, Kenya, Switzerland, France and West Germany, or they’d start killing passengers one by one on July 1.
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