ABOUT THIS EPISODE

As the film Entebbe is about to arrive in UK cinemas, historian and author Saul David reveals the extraordinary story of the Israeli operation to rescue dozens of hostages from an airport in Uganda in 1976

English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00Hi this is aaron we can the deputy politics editor at the new york times right now around the country you're probably hearing conversations about issues that affect us all immigration the second amendment sexual harassment just to name a few that's why our focus at the times is on
00:00:15reporting the facts and the issues that matter most to help you understand what's at stake for your community for your state and for your country the truth demands our attention read watch and listen to the new york times visit and white times dot com slash truth the terrorists
00:00:41in the building now realize that a rescue operation is underway what are they going to do The assumption from mookie Frankly pretty much everyone else in those cars of the stages that all the hostages in the building will be killed That was saul david talking about the nineteen
00:00:57seventy six raid on and heavy wait you're listening to the history extra podcast from bbc history magazine with the uk is bestselling history magazine available in print and several digital formats all over the world Find out more at history extra dot com forward slash subscribe or look out
00:01:37for us in your digital newsstand elapse store hello and welcome to the history extra podcast i'm rob at are the editor of bbc history magazine this week is due to see the uk release of the film and tv which was named seven days in an tevye in the
00:01:54u s it tells the dramatic story of the nineteen seventy six hijacking of an air france plane containing dozens of israeli passengers by a splinter group of the popular front for the liberation of palestine and two german terrorists who had connections with but we're not part off the
00:02:13left way west german militant organization known as the baader meinhof group The hijackers flew the plane to enter the airport in uganda where israeli forces mounted a spectacular rescue attempt Historian saw david has written a book about the anti b raid and he's also consulted on the new
00:02:32film he dropped by a bristol offices recently to describe the events of nineteen seventy six and to share his experiences of advising on the film firstly saw could we begin with the actual hijacking itself so when a where did this take place and who were these hijackers for
00:02:50The hijack took place shortly after a france airbus had taken off from athens airport But the key bit of the story is the fact that the airbus had actually started in tel aviv in israel So on the plane are a lot of israelis a lot of french of
00:03:05course because it was head it was a french airbus heading for paris on then a mixture of other nationality something like thirty different nationalities just let you get on any international flight But it was any As the plane was leaving athens that the hijackers struck they were forthem
00:03:21to germans and two palestinians on dh The fact that they struck just after it left athens was not a coincidence because they had identified that security at athens was lacks That is where they had transferred from another flight That was for the real weak point in the security
00:03:36If you were a transit passenger you could come in from the middle east like they had on then maury easily in terms of your bags being checked get onto it New flight on In fact it was quite laughable that as they got on well laughable in a kind
00:03:48of you know gallows humor type way when they actually got on the flight some of the passengers noticed that they had big bags bulging bags and what we're genuinely worried even before anything had happened And indeed in those bags they carried their weapons both pistols scorpion machine pistols
00:04:08on also grenades and it's Pretty astonishing to think today isn't that actually they were able to literally just whoa walk on with this in their hand baggage I guess they came onto the plane you what is the cockpit told the part you have to fly We want you
00:04:22to fly was already kind of violence That stage was the fact they had all these weapons spent They could do what i wanted exactly There was a lot of threat of violence but no actual violence used Well they pistol whipped someone at one point I mean if you
00:04:33didn't do what they wanted you to do they were going to use They were quite aggressive They were shouting a lot Of course in the hostage taking situation the terrorists are trained to be very aggressive to begin with Tio cow everyone to to get everyone to agree to
00:04:47what you want to do Of course this is prior to the days when the cabins were locked So it was easy for them to just go straight into the cabin But a gun to the head of the pilot and say you're heading in the direction i want you
00:04:57to head on That was it The plane was taken over literally in a matter of seconds is into you said so some of them were palestinian Some of them were german That it's quite unusual combination What What were they named All their motivations And how did these two
00:05:09nationalities come together Well the palestinian aims are reasonably straightforward they were part of the popular front for the liberation of palestine actually a splinter group of that organization But you know as the name suggests these were people who were using violence against the israeli state they wanted to
00:05:24overturn the creation of israel and returned to a unified palestine the other group of amore unusual they were part of a german extreme left wing organization called the revolutionary cells very similar to the bard of mine after they had a lot of friends and colleagues in the bardo
00:05:41mine half but they weren't baader meinhof themselves there is actually often of confusion and some of the books that they described as baader meinhof but interesting enough because most of the senior people in the bottom line if we're now in prison one of their aims was to get
00:05:54them out of prison there fellow german extreme left wing terrorists were imprisoned and they wanted to get them out so both the palestinians on the germans on this plane ultimately when the demands were issued would demand the release ofthe terrorists in a number of separate countries israel germany
00:06:12france kenya and switzerland and so clearly the history between jewish people and germans everyone knows what happened You know only thirty years before this story taking place was that on the minds ofthe thes german hijackers at all did that relate to them anyway it wasn't prior to their
00:06:31hijacking but it's certainly became on their minds during the course of the week that they remained in in teddy airport as they were making their demands because the number of the passengers some of whom were actual death camp survivors made that point how on earth can german things
00:06:46be ordering jews and threatening jews lives given the context of the holocaust now what's ironic about the german terrorists is actually one of the reasons they had become so radicalized was a conviction of than in germany at this time in the nineteen seventies a number of people were
00:07:01still in positions of authority and business and security on politicians who were ex nazis so they were very definitely anti nazi but at the same time they were anti israel or put it another way pro palestine and of course there is a slight contradiction in terms of these
00:07:18two positions that would eventually play itself out during the course of the week they were in teddy airport in uganda so they ended up in uganda and this was not by coincidence they had some kind of deal with the idiom in so what was situation there and what
00:07:32was the role of the ugandan government Well the ugandan government headed of course by the dictator idi amin had bean very friendly towards israel only a few years earlier but everything had turned on the fact that idiot i mean kept demanding more more military hardware from the israelis
00:07:47some of which they gave him But when he started asking for things like planes they said no and of course the reason they said no is well one they didn't want to have them over per se but secondly a lot of their hardware the stage had come from
00:07:59the americans and the americans absolutely would not have wanted their their planes to be handed on to a very unstable african dictator So when he didn't get what he wanted from the israelis he turned full circle towards the palestinians and also the palestinians backers in the context of
00:08:16the cold war which meant of course the russians it's and various other interested parties the saudi arabians on the egyptians basically anyone he was in their enemy of israel now became a friend of video mean on what he's really hoping to achieve he tries to pretend during the
00:08:30week long hostage taking saga that actually he's an honest broker theyjust landed by you know by by coincidence as it were he let them land for humanitarian reasons and now he's going to try and broker a peace deal In truth he was in league with the palestinians and
00:08:45the germans from the word go and the reason i know this is because i tracked down one of the germans fellow terrorists who told me that that was the case on dh that it was planned that he would appear to be helping the negotiations but of course all
00:09:00along he was in league with the palestinians and the assumption wars uganda so far away from israel is nothing israel can do about this and they eventually will have to concede the release of forty terrorists and another twelve from those separate countries and this this shows an incredible
00:09:17amount of pre planning and organization from this terrorist cell that they actually had worked had got a government of the african country onboard i mean they were quite sophisticated operation in that case yes the pflp run by what he had at work were the most sophisticated plane hijackers
00:09:32in the world at that time and there was a lot of it going down on what he had dad actually had bean the original architect of plane hijacking in the late nineteen sixties it was he who had suggested that this was a means of putting extreme pressure on
00:09:46israel on the one hand and getting massive publicity for their cause on the other and it had in fact being quite successful a number of hijacks had taken place in which is relatively forced to release terrorists in israeli jails so they weren't you know whistling in the wind
00:10:00on this one and the fact that they chose in uganda was on almost a guarantee of from them that this would work because never before in the history of the israeli defense forces had israeli troops ever operated outside the middle east on dh So if they're going to
00:10:15do anything about in teddy they're going to have to operate an awful long way from home on neither idi army nor the terrorists had any conviction or assumption that they would do that in this case in which case sooner or later they may have to wait a few
00:10:28days But sooner or later israel was goingto have to cave in All right Say that when we got twenty that not all the hostages were still on board that actually some some horses and crew have been released well one had been released because the initial destination of the
00:10:41plane after the hijacking was benghazi then under the control ofthe the libyan dictator gadhafi Colonel gadhafi on they went there because they knew that they would receive you know sort of relatively friendly Welcome In fact it seems that gaddafi wasn't expecting them but certainly he was He was
00:10:57very sympathetic to their cause on dh Therefore the planes were refueled and they needed to be refueled because ultimately they've got to get away down to uganda on that was too far for the original air bus that had taken off from athens to get in one go so
00:11:12we needed to refuel at benghazi but the plan all along was was to get teo in te b now in benghazi a british born woman who was who was then living in israel decided that she wanted to get off the plane and the way she managed it is
00:11:27by kidding the hijackers that she was having a miscarriage you know pretending that she was having a miscarriage in fact kidding them she was pregnant she wasn't even pregnant on the reason she was prepared to take such a risk because it could have gone horribly wrong was because
00:11:41her mother had just died and she was desperate to get back to manchester for her funeral So that was the first drama she pulled it off and she was the first one who actually got off the plane and was able to give information first to the british secret
00:11:55service and then of course to israeli secret service from the mossad about the identity of some of the people on board the plane And so when did the israeli government first find out for this hijacking taken place and what were their initial reaction What was their initial thought
00:12:09that ought to do well they found out the same day which is the sunday the twenty seventh of june even while the plane actually was on his way to benghazi and then of course they got confirmation when the plane was in on the tarmac of benghazi and then
00:12:22they realized the plane had taken off from ben guards and they thought it was coming back to israel so they got their their special forces to prepare you know on operation that might mean that they were gonna have to tackle the plane on the ground in israel which
00:12:34it did in fact happened a couple of years earlier but they then of course very quickly realized that it had gone to inter be now at this stage they knew that the next likely scenario is issuing of demand so they're beginning to discuss what they might have to
00:12:50concede whether they were conceived on really stopping point for the israeli government at this point and in fact all the way through the week is we will negotiate if there is no military option on a military option is only feasible if the head of the idea ma tigger
00:13:06says it's ago my people have looked at it they've planned it we've got a possible operation in hand on we can recommend it to the politicians without that recommendation they will negotiate so that's their position at the beginning of the week on so it did take a military
00:13:22option so you could give us some idea of what was the plan for a rescue hostages Well there were various plans actually that was suggested throughout the week and some of them pretty hair brained actually i mean for example at one stage they thought well this is before
00:13:33they knew the ugandans were in league with the terrorists and you know it was a reasonable assumption to make they've just picked it up in uganda uganda's just surrounded the plane but there no actually helping the terrorist that was a reasonable assumption to make And so at this
00:13:46point they're thinking all we need to do is get to the terminal building and kill the terrorists we don't actually have to penetrate through the outer cordon of ugandan troops on dso their plan was that they were going to drop commandos with inflatables into lake victoria which abuts
00:14:00on the airport and then they would just get onto dry land and carry out this soul But of course what they hadn't taken into account the fact that by dropping zodiac from such a height they're liable to burst on the sea and that's exactly what happened when they
00:14:12when they when they did a dry run outside Tel aviv so that with these various plans none of which frankly looked likely that likely to have much chance of succeeding but when they got information from some hostages who were released during the week long saga on then went
00:14:28back to paris thes with the non israelis went back to paris and gave information to the mossad and various military intelligence officials for the israelis that actually the ugandans were in league with them they realised not only do we have to kill terrorists but we've also got to
00:14:44deal with the ugandan so now we need a bigger force on we don't just need a force that's going to go in there kill the terrorist and then we're going to be allowed to leave we've got to fight our way in and fight our way out so you
00:14:54actually need to land physically land planes and there's anyone plane that has thie range to get that far on that is thie hercules transport which has been provided another plane that's being provided by america so they quickly do the sums and they realize ok the hercules can get
00:15:10there we gotta land it quietly we've gotta land in secrecy but we've also got a get off in the same plane and have enough fuel to get back and that was the problem the planes had enough fuel to get there on them for about an hour's flying time
00:15:22afterwards actually israel is in eight hours from uganda so what are you going to do now We need to solve the refueling problem on dso i guess another issue would be at this point issue of risk so you know that they got to option they can either negotiate
00:15:37or they could take this military action and there you got risk also it is ready soldiers you've got risk two hostages how did the israeli government way all those things up it's very interesting a lot of discussion about risk in fact it was all about risk is there
00:15:49a reasonable chance of this operation's succeeding that's what the military asked themselves on when they decided that their wass they then passed on the plan to the politicians and they they had to make that calculation and it's interesting that prime minister rabin finally came to the decision and
00:16:04we know this because he told his advisor on the morning of the operation that if fewer than twenty people were killed that would be seen to be a success but mohr and then the operation would would have bean ineffective failure so he was prepared to lose the lives
00:16:19of up to twenty israeli citizens probably hostages but also soldiers and that will tell you that this kind of trade off in body he's on that that by the way was roughly twenty percent of the total number of hostages will give you a sense of the kind of
00:16:32success failure mindset of the israelis of that time his hands quite cold bloody doesn't But they had been put in a very tricky situation and i suppose they're counter argument is that if we negotiate this time there'll be another hijacking another so so if the military option can
00:16:46be made to work there's a logic Yes absolutely right I mean perez interesting enough who's the defense minister at that time shimon peres technically a member of the same government of rabin but very definitely a political rivals argument was was very different He said that the israeli should
00:17:00go in with the military operation whether it succeeds or fails because you have to send out a signal to the terrorists that we will not negotiate now interesting enough Nowhere else in the world really held up position at that time The british and the americans would shortly hold
00:17:14that position partly as a result of the inter be raid but the israeli government did not At that time Perez was really on his own although he got some support in trusting enough during the week from kissinger who said he's absolutely right But the typical position held by
00:17:27the israelis at this point and in fact a position they still hold today is we will go in if there's a good chance of military operation can succeed if there's no chance we'll negotiate and we can see even more recently various mass releases off terrorists as a result
00:17:42of hostage taking of israelis If they don't think they could rescue them in the military solution they will let terrorists go Hi this is aaron We can the deputy politics editor at the new york times right now around the country you're probably hearing conversations about issues that affect
00:17:57us all immigration the second amendment sexual harassment just to name a few that's why our focus at the times is on reporting the facts and the issues that matter most to help you understand what's at stake for your community for your state and for your country The truth
00:18:12demands our attention read watch and listen to the new york times visit and white times dot com slash truth and you've heard earlier to the problem that the israeli plane could get there and back on on the fuel that it had So how did they get around that
00:18:27problem in the end Well very interesting A very clever solution Technically israel had no friends in africa at this time after the yom kippur war The organization of african unity basically blacklisted israel on dh diplomatic relations with all its members and that is pretty much the whole of
00:18:43the continent were broken off but one country retained unofficial security links with israel at that time and still does to this day and that is kenya on kenya security chief or at least the man effectively in charge of security a man called charles and john joe it was
00:18:59the attorney general but his power spread across a ll the security networks actually was very pro israel at this time and he was he in his house in nairobi that broken a secret deal with the israelis to actually let them refuel at nairobi airport it was all gonna
00:19:14be secret they're going to seal off a part of the airport on dh in return for this refueling and making the operation possible he wanted not only the destruction of video means air force which was more powerful in the kenyan air force and there's a lot of tension
00:19:29between the two countries at that time but also if possible as in john doe told me in the first time he's ever gone on record about this deal that he hoped the israelis would kill it gr mean himself assassinated eom mean so that was the deal done on
00:19:43actually that was the deal that was actually carried out i mean wasn't killed because he wasn't a in the airport at the time of the raid But the israelis did indeed destroy video means air force And so as we know they did of course conduct this raid on
00:19:57They did arrive in their plane at the cover of darkness And one of the key things in this story is yanni netanyahu the brother ofthe current israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu and his part in this whole story is quite controversial So could you perhaps tell us a little
00:20:09bit about what happened to him Well the only was in charge ofthe the sayeret matkal otherwise known as the unit which is the special force group that's going to actually carry out the raid on the terminal building So these are the best of the best in israel Their
00:20:26motto is the same as the s who dares wins nes they're trained are very similar lines but at this stage they were the finest counterterrorist operators in the world In fact britain's counter terrorist capabilities only just begun and you just begun a couple of years earlier so the
00:20:41unit led by yoon hee is going to carry out the operation Now what had happened during the course of the week is that yanni isn't actually present in tel aviv during most of discussions in the planning stage he's he's with some of his men on operation in the
00:20:55sinai And so he misses the crucial planning stage And when he comes back because it's his unit is going to carry it out he very much once to take command The original plan is he will not go in but he puts up such a fuss Is that the
00:21:07military high command Say ok fair enough It's his unit We've gotta let him go But they were already slight concerns about the fact that he was nearing burnout He's been on a lot of operations He's one of the unknown or beer but he's one of the great heroes
00:21:20you know a soldier being on many many many different operations but there's a feeling maybe maybe he's just been on one too many Nevertheless they let him go probably because they feel they have doing and maybe even a sense that the morale of the men might have suffered
00:21:34if yuan he wasn't allowed to go on this operation So he is allowed to go But he does make two or three key mistakes both in the fine tuning of the planning when he decides not to send troops up the control tower which has a kind of feel
00:21:47the fire that's right next to the terminal building where the hostages are being held on has a field of fire over the front of the building now of course if you don't neutralize that position there's a danger if if there's not an immediately successful raid on the building
00:22:01that people are going to be shot out from from that vantage point including hostages which almost happened actually but the other key mistaking makes is that the plan is to use a mercedes and two jeeps they're going to fly them in in the hercules and they're going to
00:22:14pretend to be ugandans now the agreement wars particularly made by probably the most experienced soldier in the israeli special forces at this time a man called mookie betts who was yanni's deputy move he was involved in all the planning and mckee was very much of the opinion that
00:22:31if the ugandans are kidded that were you know senior ugandan officer and his escort they won't fire it us therefore you stop at nothing even if you see a century you just go past him because of course the key point is you've got to get to the terminal
00:22:46building and neutralized the terrorists before they start killing the hostages you cannot lose the element of surprise you cannot have live firing so he's told yanni and everyone's agreed that that's the plan but for some reason a reason we will never know for sure or when they're actually
00:23:01driving up the tarmac having landed successfully unnoticed there driving up the tarmac towards seminal building they spot these centuries yanni decides in fact he gives the order to the driver to veer close towards one of the century's so that he could shoot him with a silenced pistol Now
00:23:16course the risk is is he going to kill him with the silence person And in fact any in any case there are two centuries one of whom is just kind of like slightly off to the side so it makes frankly no sense to me why he would choose
00:23:28to do this on as he gave the order monkey was in the mercedes with him said please don't you only leave him just let's get to the terminal building he doesn't leave him he shoots at him as does one of his other soldiers in the seat behind and
00:23:42they seem to hit the ugandan century and he falls all the time and everyone breathes a sigh of relief But he's not dead he gets back up now they've tried to kill him Now he knows they're hostile and he's going to open fire on before he does some
00:23:53of the soldiers and the jeep behind you do not have signed as weapons shoot him on dh at this point well before they got to the terminal building the element of surprise is lost on the terrorists who will quickly realize this because a massive fire fight breaks out
00:24:07because the ugandans on the roof of the building and are firing at the vehicles massive far fights broken out the terrorist in the building now realize that a rescue operation is underway what are they going to do the assumption from muecke frankly pretty much everyone else in those
00:24:23cars of the stages that all the hostages in the building will be killed or at least they're going to start killing them on dh there's going to be a massive loss of life you've got one hundred people men women and children sitting on the floor while lying on
00:24:35the floor they were supposed to be asleep because this operation is taking place at midnight when they hope everyone's going to be asleep on dh they're all packed in very tightly you only need a few grenades and you and is going to be a massive loss of life
00:24:46i think that's when the most interesting part of this story is the fact that it supposed to a surprise attack but the terrorists get involved notice that there's something's going on and they can probably guess that someone is coming to try to get free velocities and in what
00:24:59we could kill them but they don't then we had the opportunity to kill you know potentially tens of people at this point they don't do that So for me just to know why you think that watson also does that tell us about the way that terrorism has changed
00:25:12since that Yes i think i think it has changed of course were i can't talk for a ll terrorists today and there may be a few idealists like they were in the nineteen seventies but the germans in particular on this operation were idealists They wanted to create a
00:25:27different world a better world a better germany They were very anti capitalist anti imperialist anti israel you know there were a lot of things they were anti what they were actually for were not as certain but in any case what we do realize from the dinu more off
00:25:43the inter be operation is they weren't murderers and it's interesting on i use that term advisedly given that they were terrorists and they were prepared tio use at least the threat of violence to achieve political aims when it actually came down to it when frankly all bets were
00:25:57often they're going to die anyway Are they prepared to kill innocent women and children Reality was no why was that so Well we'll never know for sure of course because all of them died but what we can speculate on is a number of conversations that were had between
00:26:14the germans in particular on dth e hostages during the course of the week in which the hostages say why you here This whole german jew thing is madness what's going on And they said we're idealists we're not murderers and they made this point a number of times and
00:26:26actually i spoke too one of the comrades of the terrorists who told me exactly the same thing They've gone there to achieve specific games which is the release ofthe prisoners in germany where they prepared to murder particularly when they weren't going to get those aims The reality was
00:26:44no now you could ask the question wrong if you're really going to do delved deeply into this would they have been prepared to kill one or two hostages early in the week to persuade the israelis that they were serious Possibly i probably go further in that and say
00:26:57probably but are they prepared to murder people when they're probably going to die anyway Interestingly enough no that is a really interesting point I mean obviously we should qualify by say they put a lot of innocent people's lives at risk You know completely unnecessarily from those people's point
00:27:11of view but there is still interesting difference between i think terrorism nowadays even what you were saying before about letting somebody off the plane who claimed to have a miscarriage again You just can't see that happening now It is a tool No you need to see this And
00:27:22in the broadest possible context they were prepared to use violence People did lose their lives as a result of this operation which had of course being directly caused by their decision to carry out the hijacking in the first place Not all the hostages go back home because some
00:27:36of them were actually killed by israeli bullets Friendly fire was a credit book Bad luck But the point being in a hostage rescue operation the troops are pretty ruthless If they're uncertain about anyone being a terrorist they will kill them because the terrorists of course then have a
00:27:50knopper tune it You don't kill him immediately to kill hostages so for oscar's lose their lives So we know that people lost their lives As a result of this operation a number of ugandan soldiers were killed by the israelis in an attempt to get to the building and
00:28:04secure the building and again They lost their lives and you you know their lives must be put at the door of the people who decide to go in this operation the first place but that they would be prepared to carry out murder when there was really frankly nothing
00:28:17to gain by apart from publicist e you know it's interesting they were not in that sense Certainly when you talk about the more extreme islamic terrorism of today things have very much changed for the worst And so as you indicated the israeli commandos they got into the building
00:28:34they killed a little of the terrorists on dh then i think three or four hostages were also killed You're in the yard was killed as well So could you say what happened to him And yes well i talked before about the control tower and the control tower and
00:28:47yanni's decision not to take out the control tower he's argument was we don't have enough men you know you land a certain number of soldiers it can't be that many because they were all coming on the first plane the snatch squad the feeling among special forces off often
00:29:00actually is the fewer the better the fewer things can go wrong if you've got a few in number of soldiers but the number of soldiers meant that janni felt they didn't have enough to take out the control tower on duel they are the things go through all the
00:29:12other various entrances that they plan to do none of which by the way worked out as they had planned it because of course they lost a surprise but nevertheless that was johnny's decision and he was actually from the control tower that he was shot to in some small
00:29:24way He played a part it's awful to say from a man who was killed on this operation and years to this day a great hero in israel for understandable reasons But i don't think the true story of yanni's actions that day have ever really bean told on if
00:29:38you know there was a good reason for that of course and that that is the current prime minister Israel has partly based his political career on your knees terrorism that johnny was a hero i'm in no doubt that he made mistakes that day I'm also in no doubt
00:29:51and it's interesting that even after the surprise was lost he still decided to take up his position in front of the terminal building in full view of the control tower where he must have known Ugandan soldiers were able to far from because he wanted to direct the operation
00:30:08and that of course shows extraordinary courage but maybe it was a bit foolhardy because it was from that position that he was shot and so in total small essentially of the hostages lost their lives in this operation and yearning netanyahu of the israeli forces but overall was dispute
00:30:23a success back in israel when they got the vast majority of the hostages home safely yes it wass national outpouring in israel tremendous political success for rabin and peres because they had taken the bold option and they pulled it off when i mentioned before up to twenty lives
00:30:40lost only five were loss for israelis civilians on one soldier on that was considered to be extraordinary success the rest of the western world also weighed in in its congratulations although some countries britain included were a little bit cautious about congratulating israel as opposed to condemning the terrorism
00:31:01there were there were there was you know the fault lines of the cold war a very clear at this point you know some people certainly some british jews felt very angry that the british government had b'more effusive and its support the americans for example were muchmore congratulate ary
00:31:16on interesting enough and maybe not surprisingly the united nations was split straight down the line really between the african countries on the i'm cut in countries condemned the raid on then of course the west supporting it on in fact almost unbelievably there was a new attempt at least
00:31:32emotion put in the united nations too condemn the actions of israel in rescuing their unarmed civilians on this of course was vetoed by the u k in the u s and the security council And so would that counter argument have bean that uganda was not a country that
00:31:48israel had committed an attack on a sovereign nation And i guess maybe they didn't know uganda and complicity would that be the counter Will you pinto what israel was saying That's exactly right The argument was made by uganda itself because it knew the full story but it wasn't
00:32:01going to tell anyone And then all this friend ins that this wass effectively an undeclared declaration of war on on uganda and you know the most disgraceful bit of behavior on the behalf of the israelis the israeli counter argue is that a nation has the right to protect
00:32:18its citizens even in a foreign country on that certainly was the argument that was most convincing to the western world is you would have imagined it would what was the legacy of the interview raid on hi jackie and counterterrorism operations in the years to follow Well the tepee
00:32:35rate embolden some countries like the united kingdom on the us into thinking we can deal with scourge of international terrorism If we train up counterterrorist forces to a sufficiently high level one and two we actually have the political will to use them And of course you see both
00:32:54these things coming together in nineteen eighty with differing results in the space of ten days in nineteen eighty the british launch the rescue off hostages in the iranian embassy siege by the s which is successful on the americans tried to do the same thing a few days earlier
00:33:10in iran much more difficult operation in fact an operation as difficult if not more difficult in the entire be operation because they're going into a hostile country that is their own hostages in the american embassy in tehran had been taken taken prisoner by the islamic regime there on
00:33:27that one fails But what both of those operation show you is a new willingness to use counter terrorist troops to defeat international terrorism But not all countries either felt that way then or do today for example france has been much more likely to negotiate thie Interesting thing about
00:33:45islamic terrorism particularly france now is that they're beginning to realize that there is no negotiation actually and you may as well go in send the forces in which we've seen that in recent times but only when all bets are off and there is no chance to negotiate Does
00:33:58a country like france thing Okay that's the way to go and you could say well they got no option thie other thing in teddy operation did is it pretty much put an end to the scourge of airplane hijacking in the nineteen seventies There will wanted to mawr after
00:34:13this but pretty much this massive scourge and they're being up to eighty year year during the late sixties and early early seventies that's the end of it because now the hijackers strike terrorist realized that there is a counter solution too what they thought wass insoluble problem for some
00:34:31of these countries on did the office of inter be lead to any developments in the israeli palestinian conflict The interesting thing is what effect in teddy had on the wider peace process on dh there the jury is very definitely out and there are two schools of thought on
00:34:47these schools of thought interesting enough were was suggested to me by israelis themselves in fact by some of the hostages On the one hand israel now feels given the pr success of this operation that it has the kind of security force capability and intelligence capability off dealing with
00:35:04any threat therefore you don't need to negotiate you don't need to concede thing on on the other hand a sense that now we're in a strong position This is the time at which you negotiate from We know that in the nineteen nineties of course with the oslo peace
00:35:18accords both rabin and peres were very much in the second group but we also know that israel pretty much ever since entirely but pretty much ever since and certainly the netanyahu positions has been to take a much stronger stance is to build up to security forces in the
00:35:33intelligence capability on dh to concede very little do we know what impact it had on the palestinian side and the way they thought about the ways they might seek liberation in future We know that the palestinians were shaken by the interview rate because this was the biggest tool
00:35:49frankie in their armory at that point that you were putting increasing amounts of pressure on israel forcing them to release increasing number of important political prisoners terrorists on dh that sooner or later they were gonna have to come to the negotiating table on the negotiating table would be
00:36:05a situation which would be very beneficial to the palestinian so it was quite a shock to the system on it may actually have caused them to conclude that they needed to concede a bit more from their ground because the whole point of negotiation is that both sides as
00:36:20we can see with brexit both sides have to concede something for research for your book you've spoken to a large number of people who were who were involved either as hostages or some of the leaders and also some of the people from the commanders on the raid What
00:36:34kind of insights did you get from talking to these people who actually took part in this story Well it's one of the privileges actually off researching a subject like this which is within my own lifetime and in fact within my own memory believe it or not i was
00:36:45ten at the time of the raid is that unlike normal historical process where you're just dealing with records on the historical record now we're dealing with actual people who went through it so you're able to question what they might have said before say well i know you say
00:37:01you were in x but actually this was going on the terrorist was a trick was a tricky problem of course because none of them survived but the next best thing was to find someone who i knew them in fact guy i find good snapple who is still on
00:37:14the run from german justice in nicaragua to this day i was able to interview on skype on dh it was a real insight into not just what they were thinking is the terrorist group but also into the personalities of the people who were dead and i found when
00:37:29i was researching the story that actually this perspective of the terrorists was almost completely missing we didn't really know who they were lots of books actually identify the wrong people we certainly didn't know what their motivations were what they would try to get out of this operation on
00:37:43we didn't truly understand why the operation was a success given the surprise was lost halfway through it it probably should have been a failure So all of these things were insights that were given to me on the one hand by the terrorists who knew them best In fact
00:37:56he was the boyfriend of a brigade to calm and one of the one of the germans hijackers but also then you get the other side of the story which is talking to hostages who were in that building at the moment the rescuers came in and could look into
00:38:08the eyes of the terrorists and tell me that they had the chance to kill people and they didn't you know you you cannot get that sort of proximity to an actual event just by reading someone's account too actually speak to someone see the emotion in their eyes as
00:38:24i did with one of the key austria's what one of the main spokespeople on a person who was right next to the terrorists when the when the rescuers came in is you know it's a great privilege but also it's a great insight frankly on dh it's what makes
00:38:39near contemporaneous history and this is the only book i've written of this type of my many books are much more interesting in some ways and now of course there's there's a film which is jude come on i think it has already been recent some countries and i know
00:38:52you what you were heavily involved in that so if you're really interested to know what it's liketo work on a big film like this yeah it was being you know a fascinating process no always enjoyable because i don't think any author whose work gets bored well the rights
00:39:07get bought for use in a feature film is ever going to be entirely happy with the process for for obvious reasons we're on those obvious reasons are this is a non fiction book on its reason the unusual for a nonfiction books writes to be bought all that happens
00:39:20but a film is a feature film it za film in which they are going to take liberties with the truth interesting enough the the director jersey padilla who made his name with two you know wonderful films about corrupt policemen in brazil in the two thousands i had always
00:39:36worked on subjects in which he'd done a lot of his own research you know they were always heavily based on truth and therefore he was a very good director in that sense for this project but nevertheless the script does take some liberties but it was a really interesting
00:39:49insight into the process of filmmaking slightly unusual in that they were already thinking of making a film before they bought the rights to my book But when they got hold of the book they realized that their original plan which is to tell the story purely from the perspective
00:40:02of the hijackers and terrorists wasn't the most sensible way to do it because you've got these two other wonderful strands running side by side which is the political decision making israel on the preparation and planning of the soldiers And so like my book which unfolds day today so
00:40:16does the film So you're the films actually called seven days in tabby but the us version on dh they count down just like my book does from day to day so the book was very heavily used in the structure of the film and certainly a lot of the
00:40:29new material the new information that i provided it is in the film and i don't know how these forces work entirely but would you then come on set sometimes which would be getting phone calls and e mails saying soul can you verify this fact You tell us a
00:40:40bit more about this how might this characters behave in this circumstance was quite interesting that they is very un specific they buy the rights and basically they could do what they like with the book which is fine but they also inserted a clause that said that i would
00:40:53be credited consultant but there's nothing in the contract say i need to work as a consultant but i was interested in the process of the film and so i was very keen to be involved Therefore i vetted three versions of the script so i was able to get
00:41:08get on early look at the script long before of course the film was actually made and and so you see how much actually changes during the course of various rewrites of the script Then the new director came in because there was one before padilla padilla has his own
00:41:21version of events and i went to meet padilla and he said look i've read your book twice already solo i love it were very much going based the film on it you know i hope that you're always going to be available for any you know any extra information
00:41:33we need and i wass i mean they were ringing me up and ask me questions like can you tell me what color the wallpaper you know all the walls were painted in the terminal building and i said yeah i've got it i've got a picture here i have
00:41:43very good contacts of course in the israeli military at this point and i was able to put them in touch with a lot of people in fact padilla himself went to interview a lot of the same people i'd interviewed he wanted to hear that story from the horse's
00:41:55mouth he didn't entirely trust my book but he recently went on the record I was very pleased to see in an interview in america with what i think one of the hollywood websites in which he said i wanted to check every facet of saul's book on dh it
00:42:08you know it played out it was accurate but good on him for making the effort to fly to israel to speak to former soldiers former hostages he couldn't speak to the terrorist i spoke too because frankly i was the last person to being contact with him i think
00:42:23he probably felt after you gave the interview to me given his current situation that it might be best if he disappeared into the shadows again so they weren't able to speak to him but they were able to you do an awful lot of extra research you know and
00:42:37you could only applaud him for that the end result is a very nuanced film i think in which the terrorists humanize much more than you might expect and that of course has made the film grab very controversial because you can understand that israelis of said well hold on
00:42:50a second you know they they seem to know a fair bit of sympathy for the terrorist sympathies the wrong word that he's flashing out who they were what their motors were on trying to explain frankly the this seemingly inexplicable in this story which is that why they took
00:43:04their decision at the last moment and i think the broader message padilla's trying to send out in this film is that actually you can use military force but that is no long term solution on dh if that is his argument and i think it is because he's gone
00:43:16on the record as saying it i'm four square behind him on there so as you mentioned that has gotta be some controversies about this film as i would have expected however the film was made in israel about the portrayal off the terrorists in this case but do you
00:43:29know how the actual people who went through this story i've ever even seen the film of what they thought about well hey actually had two off the commanders in fact the first two commandos through the door on set he also had on on set as as an an
00:43:43advisor one of the hostage is in fact one of the french crew members who they actually recreating the film I mean they had dialogue which he never said But anyway he is portrayed very heavily in the film In a sympathetic light they slightly fudged the issue of whether
00:43:59or not they're ever given the chance to leave but that aside it's a very accurate portrayal So on set as they were actually going through the rescue scenes they had two guys who bean there So in that sense they made enormous efforts to try and tell it as
00:44:13accurately as they can But you do get this terrible conundrum with all feature films which is that even the end reality gets in the way of their dramatic purposes Reality will always lose out So while on the one hand you're trying to sell a film was very authentic
00:44:28there's always a bit of a lie to that because the truth of the matter is that authenticity is always going to lose out due to drama and he does it certain instances in this film that was saul david his book operation thunderbolt is out now in the uk
00:44:45published by hodder and stoughton And in the us it's also available published by basic babe books ondas i mentioned earlier the film and toby is scheduled to be released in the uk tomorrow the eleventh of may and it has already been released in several other countries around the
00:45:02world Okay well i'm afraid that's all we have time for today but please do join us again on monday for more from the world of history Thanks for listening to this history extra podcast which was produced by jack fletcher do let us know what you think about this
00:45:17episode by emailing podcast at history extra dot com we might read out your messages and future editions Alternatively why not keep in touch via twitter or facebook where you'll find us a history extra firm or great history content Don't forget to visit our website history extra dot com
00:45:36which is full of history articles quizzes image galleries and more plus it's where you can download hundreds of previous episodes of this podcast

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