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11/30/1 Q+A: Iddo Netanyahu

The cover of "Yoni's
Last Battle."

Iddo Netanyahu, brother of former Israeli prime-minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an established writer currently living in the United States. Two of Netanyahu's book's, "Letters of Jonathon Netanyahu: The Commander of the Entebbe Rescue Force," and "Yoni's Last Battle:An Inside Story of the Remarkable Rescue at Entebbe" are currently recieving acclaim from readers and critics. The books are in-depth accounts of the raid at Entebbe airport in which 106 Israeli hostages were freed from their captives. Iddo's brother Jonathon (Yoni) was the leader of a commando force that accomplished the raid and was the only soldier killed in the battle.

Editor Lance Vargas recently had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Netanyahu about his two books.

Lance Vargas: Aside from your two books, tell us about who you are independent from them.
Iddo Netanyahu: I was born in Jerusalem and spent part of my childhood in the U.S. My father was a professor of Jewish history at several universities. I finished my last year of high school in Denver, Colorado. I then returned to serve in the Israeli Army and I enlisted in the same commando unit as my bothers, Jonathon and Benjamin, who you know I'm sure. And that was the same unit that my brother Johnathon led at the rescue at Entebbe. Following the service, I began my studies at Cornell University here in the U.S. but I cut it short because the Yom Kippur War broke out. So I returned to Israel to take part in the war and subsequently started studying medicine in Israel and started my writing career. I published a few books and now I divide my time between writing and medicine.

L.V.: In addition to the two books you're currently involved with, what are other contributions have you made to the literary world?
I.N.: Three books. One is a book of short stories, part of which has been translated into Russian. I also wrote "Itamar K," a political, cultural and social satire about Isreal. And I published several stories in various publications here and there.

LV: What is the main theme or subject of "Yoni's Last Battle"?
I.D.: It is a book that details the operation at Entebbe and concentrates mostly on the elite commando unit, which is called, "Sayeret Matkal." It details the main part of the raid and the rescue of the hostages, mainly the fighting with the Ugandan Army in the terminal and with the terrorists and releasing the hostages. The battles that took place in that whole are that is called the old termminal at the Entebbe airport where the hostages were kept. That whole part was what my brother's unit was in charge of and of course my brother was the commander. He was the only Isreali soldier killed in the raid.

L.V. Describe the political situation thast led up to the incident at Entebbe.. I.D.: The terrorists were a mixture of Arab and German. Palestinian for the most part who were aided by two german terrorists. The group that executed the actual operation was called the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The man who headed the group was a terrorist called Wadia Haddad. Their demands were to release 53 terrorists, most of whom were jailed in Isreal. Some were jailed in Western Europe. That's what they wanted. They wanted the release of the terrorists for the lives of the hostages. They flew the plane to Uganda, they took the hostages off the plane and took them to the old terminal. They released the non-Isreali hostages and kept the Isreali's and a few Jews that had an orthadox look about them. Israel felt it had no choice but to give in to the demands. They extended the dealine for two days and in that time, intellegence started filtering in and the government was able to start forming an operational plan and which was executed.

L.V. What are some of your the thoughts detailed in your brother's book of letters?
I.D.: He writes about everything. From his impression of the country road he's driving on to the national predicament of Israel. But I would say the one underlying theme that emerges in the letters is that he came to realize how precarious Israel's existance is. He basically found himself committing his life to the purpose of trying to ensure the survival of Isreal. In one of the letters, when he was seventeen, he states that he does not fear death. That if he needed to sacrafice his life in order to attan a purpose he would have no hesitation doing so. He wrote this when he was seventeen and eventually lived up to that idea.