Israel, Uganda hope for a new beginning as they reset relations
KAMPALA, JULY 4 – Four decades ago, terror placed them on different sides of history. But as Uganda and Israel in a sombre ceremony commemorated the events of that dramatic night fourty years ago today, the leaders of both countries, once again united by global terrorism were hoping for a new beginning.
“Fourty years ago we landed in the dead of the night in a country whose leader haboured terrorists. Today we land in broad daylight welcomed by a president who fights terrorism. Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Isreal. Both people will benefit immensely from the new relationship,” Netanyahu said in an emotional speech at Entebbe.
For the Israeli Premier, his four nation African odyssey promises new allies on the international diplomatic stage. Uganda on the other hand, one time a beneficiary of Israeli agro-technology and security supplies, dedicating the old airport terminal where Netanyahu’s elder brother Yoni was felled by a Ugandan bullet as he commanded the operation to rescue Israeli hostages that were being by Palestinian guerillas.
The one-day visit to Uganda is the start of Netanyahu’s tour of Africa during which he will also visit Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. In Entebbe, he was also scheduled to preside over a regional summit on terrorism with leaders from seven African countries.
“I am happy to be welcomed on my first journey into Sub Saharan Africa by a president who fights terrorism. At Entebbe, Terrorism suffered a resounding defeat. Our rescue mission proved that good can prevail over evil and fear,” he said in his short remarks. “When terrorism succeeds in one place, it spreads to other places; when it defeated anywhere, it weakened everywhere,” he said.
His host had earlier set the tone by blaming his predecessor Idi Amin for the carnage of that night in which 40 Uganda soldiers were killed.
“Amin’s hobnobbing with terrorists was a crime in itself. Amin was wrong to keep the hostages and the Israelis were right to use the use the incapacity of that army to rescue the innocent hostages,” Museveni said.
The two leaders then unveiled two plaques – one to the memory of those killed in the raid and the other to a refurbished section of Mulago national Referral Hospital where one hostage, Dora Bloch was dragged to her death.