Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Ceremony Marking the 40th Anniversary of Operation Entebbe

President Museveni, I want to thank you also for hosting the other African leaders who have so graciously come to meet me. The historic summit that will be held later today between the leaders of seven African countries and Israel testifies to the dramatic changes taking place in the relationship between Israel and Africa.

Africa is a continent on the rise. Israel looks forward to strengthening ties with all its countries. Many African leaders visit Israel; and I am proud to be the first Israeli prime minister in over 20 years to come to visit sub-Saharan Africa. After many decades, I can say unequivocally: Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel. All of our peoples will benefit greatly from our growing partnership.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a deeply moving day for me. Exactly 40 years ago, Israeli soldiers carried out the historic mission at Entebbe, and now I have the privilege to return here as Prime Minister of Israel with some of those same brave soldiers and some of those brave pilots who flew them here.

Forty years ago, they landed in the dead of night in a country led by a brutal dictator who gave refuge to terrorists. Today we landed in broad daylight in a friendly country led by a president who fights terrorists.

We have gathered here to mark an event that inspired the world and lifted the spirits of my people. At Entebbe, international terrorism suffered a stinging defeat. The rescue mission proved that good can prevail over evil, that hope can triumph over fear.

Today savage terror is once again sweeping the world. We must recognize that the battle against it is indivisible. When terrorism succeeds in one place, it spreads to other places. And when terrorism is defeated anywhere, it is weakened everywhere.

This is why Entebbe was more than an Israeli victory; it was a victory for all humanity in the fight against those who threaten our common civilization.

The raid on Entebbe was a watershed moment in the life of my people. For centuries, Mr. President, we were stateless and powerless to defend ourselves. No one came to our rescue. We were murdered by the millions. The rise of Israel changed all that. Time and again, Israel has successfully defended itself against enemies committed to our destruction.

But it was perhaps at Entebbe where this fundamental transformation was most dramatically seen by the world. On July 4, 1976, Israel launched the most daring rescue mission of all time to save our captive brethren in the heart of Africa. We were powerless no more. We would do whatever it would take to defend our nation and rescue our people.

That night 40 years ago also changed the course of my own life and the lives of those whose relatives died here, Jean-Jacques Mimouni, Pasco Cohen, Ida Boruhovitch and Dora Bloch.

My beloved brother Yoni, who led the force that stormed the old terminal, overcame the terrorists and freed the hostages, was the only soldier who was killed.

I learned from my brother and from others that two things are needed above all to defeat terrorism: clarity and courage. Clarity to distinguish good from evil; and courage to confront evil. Clarity is to know that nothing justifies terrorism. Nothing justifies the deliberate murder of the innocent, the systematic slaughter of civilians. We must condemn all acts of terrorism, whether they are perpetrated in Paris or Brussels, in Orlando or San Bernardino, in Tunis or Nairobi, in Hebron or Netanya. And alongside clarity, courage is the other indispensable quality needed to fight the terrorists and their sponsors, in order to defend our values and our lives.

Today, in this place, where free people delivered a devastating blow to the forces of terror, we and all the civilized nations must rededicate ourselves to the spirit of Entebbe, a spirit of daring and resolve, a spirit of courage and fortitude, a spirit that is determined as ever to defeat terror and to secure our common future.

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