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Entebbe raid leader: Engagement is better than violence in lowering insecurity at airports

Colonel Omer Bar-Lev
Colonel Omer Bar-Lev

Catching a plane in the 1970s wasn’t much different to catching a taxi, boda boda, bus or train.

Screening of passengers wasn’t even a mandatory FAA requirement until 1973.

However, it was the 1976 Air France hijacking, which ended in the breathtakingly audacious Israeli Entebbe Raid and hostage rescue in Uganda which made airports to take their security seriously.

To this day, this incident still stands as a vivid reminder of why air transport remains a prominent terrorist threat.

According to one of the leaders of the Entebbe Raid, and a former commander of Israeli special forces, Colonel Omer Bar-Lev, it affects every journey, every air transport job and, if nothing else, costs a lot of money; it especially impacts the viability of regional airports.

Bar-Lev, who became an MP and security spokesman for the Labor Party, believes engagement is critical to reducing the cycle of violence which has made aviation a central target for terrorism.

Despite his profound combat experience, Bar-Lev recognises the limitations of force, and certainly knows a thing or two about engagement having taken part in the negotiations with the Palestinians that led to the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, and the Israel-Jordan peace treaty.

Despite the passage of time the resonance of Entebbe continues: the rescue is known today as “Operation Jonathan” in memory of Jonathan Netanyahu, one of its leaders who was fatally wounded in the attack, and brother of the current Israeli Prime Minister.

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