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July 14, 2017

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 14, 2017 PAGE 3A The crew of the C-130 Hercules cargo plane and (then) Lt. CoL Joshua Shani (in the center of the group). On America's Indepen- dence Day, let's not forget another important anniver- sary-On July 4th, 1976, Operation Entebbe, a hostage- rescue mission, was carried out by commandos of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. This is a different story of in- dependence and freedom for Jews and Israelis throughout the world. Operation Entebbe a hos- tage-rescue mission, was carried out by commandos of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. The operation, which took a week of plan- ning, lasted 90 minutes. One hundred and two Israeli and Jewish hostages were rescued. Brig. Gen. (res.) Joshua Shani was the lead pilot in Operation Entebbe, flying the first C-130 Hercules cargo plane with the entire rescue force on board. He agreed to answer a few questions. How did the crisis at En- tebbe begin? On June 27, 1976, a Paris- bound Air France flight from Tel Aviv, via Athens, was hijacked and diverted to Entebbe, Uganda. Two of the hijackers were members of the German Baader-Meinhof Gang, and two were from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They demanded the release of 53 jailed terrorists in Israel. On the third day of the crisis, the terrorists sepa- rated Israeli and Jewish pas- sengers from the others. The captors freed the non-Jews and sent them to France the next day. Quietly, while the rest of the world talked but did noth- ing, the Israel Defense Forces planned a rescue mission. How did you first find out that you would be asked to help rescue the hostages? I was at a wedding when the commander of the Israel Air Force, Maj. Gen. Benny Peled, approached me and began asking questions about the capabilities of the C-130. It was a strange situation-- the commander of the IAF, a major general, asking a lieutenant colonel questions about an airplane. But the C-130 was a new plane, and the IAF top brass were always focused on fighter jets, not transport planes. Peled asked me if it was possible to fly to Enteb- be, how long it would take and what it could carry. I left him with the impres- sion that a rescue would be possible. How did the operation begin? We began our journey from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, which at the time was under Israeli control. The takeoff from Sharm was one of the heaviest ever in the history of this airplane. I didn't have a clue what would happen. The aircraft was crowded. I was carrying the Sayeret Matkal assault team, led by Yonatan Netanyahu. I was also carrying a Mer- cedes, which was supposed to confuse Ugandan soldiers at the airport, because IdiAmin, the country's dictator, had the same car. And I also found room to pack Land Rovers and a paratrooper force. I gave the plane maximum power, and it was just taxi- ing, not accelerating. At the very end of the runway, I was probably two knots over the stall speed, and I had to lift off. I took off to the north, but had to turn south where our destination was. I couldn't make the turn until I gained more speed. Just making that turn, I was struggling to keep control, but you know, airplanes have feelings, and all turned out well. What was going through your head as you approached the runway in Uganda? My biggest fear was not be- ing shot at from the ground, but making a mistake as a pilot. All I could think the entire time was "Don't screw this up!" True, the risks to my life were real, but I was more worried about botching the landing and endangering the success of the entire op- eration. Think about it--how many people would have died at Entebbe if I had made a mistake? In case something did go wrong, though, I was prepared for the worst. I was wearing a helmet, a bullet-proof vest, and I had an Uzi. I was also Yonatan Netanhayu given a thick wad of cash in case I needed to use it to es- cape Uganda. Luckily, I never had to use it. I returned the cash after returning to Israel. What happened after you landed? I stopped in the middle of the runway, and a group of paratroopers jumped out from the side doors and marked the runway with electric lights, so that the other planes behind me could have an easier time landing. The paratroopers went on to take the control tower. The Mercedes and Land Rov- ers drove out from the back cargo door of my airplane, and the commandos stormed the old terminal building where the hostages were. While coordinating the Entebbe on page 15A By Andrew Tobin JERUSALEM (JTA)--An internal Palestinian dispute has left Gaza's nearly 2 mil- lion Palestinian residents dangerously vulnerable to a heat wave, but Israel could get burned, too. The West Bank Palestin- Jan Authority has recently spearheaded a sharp reduc- tion of electricity to the coastal enclave with Israel's cooperation, resulting in the exacerbation of Gaza's already dire humanitarian crisis and hints of new alliances that could lead to new military conflict with Israel. The electricity cuts are part of a power play by the Palestin- ian Authority against Hamas, its rival Palestinian faction that governs the territory. Hamas has looked to Egypt for help--a development that could auger further conflict with Israel. Amid the political wran- gling, a new U.N report said Gaza gets electricity just four to six hours a day, down from the recent normal flow of eight to 12 hours a day. Wa- ter is available a few hours every three to five days with desalination plants operat- ing at 15 percent of capacity. Hospital care has suffered, and 29 million gallons of sewage is flooding into the Mediterranean Sea every day and threatening to overflow into the streets. In recent days temperatures in the region have soared to over 98 degrees, with Israel reporting record-breaking demand for electricity on Sunday and Monday. "The situation in Gaza has becoming increasingly pre- carious over recent months," Robert Piper, the United Nations' humanitarian co- ordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said in a plea to diplomats here Monday for $25.2 of emergency fund- ing. "No one is untouched by the energy crisis." How did Gaza get here? In 2007, Hamas violently seized control of the terri- tory from Fatah, the political faction that dominates the Palestinian Authority gov- ernment. In the decade since the coup, Israel--along with Egypt--has largely sealed off Gaza from land, air and sea. According to Israel, the blockade is necessary to keep weapons and material out of the hands of Hamas, North Carolina passes (JTA)--North Carolina lawmakers passed a bill that would bar the state from doing business with companies that boycott Israel. Both houses of the General Assembly passed the bill last week. Gov. Roy Cooper must sign the measure before it becomes law. It passed the state House of Representatives by a vote of 96-19 and the state Senate by a vote of 45-3. Under the legislation, state institutions must stop contracts with companies that boycott companies or products made in Israel. The bill also prohibits fu- ture work with such com- panies. North Carolina businesses conduct nearly $140 million y crls s which has terrorized and warred with the Jewish state and vowed its destruction. Israel has allowed humanitar- ian goods to enter Gaza and permitted some Gazans to come for medical care. The Palestinian Authority has continued to pay for most of Gaza's electricity, which Is- rael has supplied and is paid for with taxes it collects on behalf of the West Bank government. Gaza's sole power plant and, to a lesser extent, Egypt have supplied the rest. The power crisis began in April, when the Gaza power plant shut down for lack of diesel fuel. Hamas refused to buy more fuel from the Pales- tinianAuthority, complaining the taxes it charged were too high. In June, the Palestinian Authority announced itwould reduce its payments to Israel for Gaza's electricity by 40 per- cent. In response, Israel has gradually decreased the power supply to the territory--by 35 percent as of Sunday. The Palestinian Authority has said it hopes to pressure Hamas to hand over control of Gaza. Since April, the Pal- estinian Authority has also slashed the salaries it has paid to tens of thousands of bill per year in exports and com- merce with Israel, according to the North Carolina Jewish Federation. North Carolina will be- come at least the 22nd state with laws or executive orders banning state business with companies that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, against Israel. COU A Palestinian boy cooling City, July 2, 2017. employees of the pre-Hamas government for not working and dramatically reduced medical aid to Gaza. On Tues- day, the PalestinianAuthority fired more than 6,000 of those employees. Rather than capitulat- ing, Hamas has looked to Egypt for help. In late June, Cairo began supplying fuel for Gaza's power plant--though not enough to compensate for the Israeli cuts. Hamas has also apparently been working toward forming a new government in Gaza with Mohammad Dahlan, a former Fatah strongman in Gaza with close ties to Egypt who helped broker the fuel shipments. Making nice with Dahlan appeared to be an attempt by Hamas to win an opening of its Rafah border crossingwith Egypt, which would give it a portal with the outside world and alleviate the humanitar- off during a heat wave at the ian crisis. Neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority have been on good terms with Dahlan. Hamas chased him out of Gaza in 2007, and Pal- estinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas exiled him from the Palestinian territo- ries in 2011, deeming him a political threat. Israeli Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have said the electricity cuts are an internal Palestinian issue and Israel would restore full power were someone to foot the bill. But some officials have questioned whether Gaza's suffering is in Israel's interest. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a close associate of the prime minister, last month said it was "unacceptable" for Abbas to dictate Israeli policy. Last week, municipal and regional leaders in Israel rejected the announcement AFP/Getty Images al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza of a government-planned pipeline that would require them to treat the sewage that has flowed into their com- munities from waterways in northern Gaza. "Israel's interest is to allo- cate electricity to Gaza for ci- vilian causes," Aion Schuster, the head of the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, told JTA. "I believe our policy should be to give the Palestinians what they need, and not to torture them in any case." Hamas' political maneu- vering could also have secu- rity implications. An alliance with Abbas' political nemesis might well widen the rift between Hamas and Fatah. Further, if history is any guide, Hamas would make use of any increase in the flow of people and goods through Rafah to bolster its military capabilities. Thatwould make another war with Israel all the more devastating.