Book Review: “Yoni’s Last Battle: The Rescue at Entebbe, 1976” by Iddo Netanyahu

Please note: I first published this book review on the “Goodreads”-website in 2023.

My rating: 3 (of 5) “stars”

I read a hardcover copy of this book, which previously belonged to a friend who cleaned out her library. I’ve now done the same thing, and passed the book on to another friend. The book was published in 2001 by Gefen Publishing House. You can still buy used copies of this book online, e. g., at AbeBooks.

Before I post my “Goodreads” review from March 30, 2023, I want to clarify a few things about my review. It was written during a time of political unrest in Israel, but before the heinous October 7, 2023, attacks by Hamas on Israel. Let there be no doubt about my point of view: I unequivocally support Israel. Hamas are terrorists, not Palestinian freedom fighters.

Book Review:

I actually finished reading this book a few weeks ago (note: before March 2023), but wasn’t sure what I would want to write about in my review. Here it is:

The book tells the story of a 1976 rescue operation by an Israeli elite military unit of more than one hundred hostages, who were held captive by Palestinian and German terrorists at the airport of Entebbe, Uganda. The terrorists hijacked a French airplane, and kept the hostages in an old airport building at Entebbe. The Ugandan army helped the terrorists.

The Israeli rescue operation was daring, and a success, but the Israeli military unit’s commander, Yoni Netanyahu, was killed during the rescue mission. I’m not telling you any spoilers, all that information is printed on the book’s dust jacket.

The book was written by Yoni’s brother Iddo Netanyahu, another brother is the current (in 2023) Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The writer recounts in detail the preparation for this mission, which – as a reader, and not as a military analyst – I wouldn’t have needed to be told in such detail. I would have preferred more information about Yoni Netanyahu as a person: more childhood stories, more personal information, etc. That’s why I am only giving this book three “stars.”

But….

I pulled this book from my bookshelf – never having read it before, it ended up in my personal library when a friend got rid of it several years ago – when the Israeli people started to protest en masse against the judicial reforms in Israel at the beginning of 2023, which would weaken the country’s democratic structures and put Israel on a path towards dictatorship. The reforms were intitiated by the late Yoni Netanyahu’s brother, Benjamin, and while I was reading this book, I couldn’t help thinking over and over again, “Is this what Yoni died for?”

My personal impression is that, were he alive today, Yoni would be very ashamed of the actions of his brother Benjamin. To give your own life for Israel is heroic, and his death was a tragedy. But for me as a reader, it is mind-blowing that almost 50 years later the dead soldier’s brother is the greatest danger to the democratic state of Israel.

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