“OPERATION THUNDERBOLT”– Retelling a Victory


“Operation Thunderbolt (Mitvse Yonatan)”

Retelling a Victory

Amos Lassen


I doubt that many of you remember the high jacking incident of 1976 when an Air France plane was flown to Uganda and the Israeli army flew into Entebbe and rescued the passengers. “Operation Thunderbolt” is the Israeli movie of the undertaking and shows how everything came together to make victory possible. The film focuses on the leader of the operation, Jonathan Netanyahu who was the only casualty,

This is not a Hollywood film and not an action film per se and is a much better movie than the ones put out by Hollywood on the same topic. It is true to the tactics, techniques and training of a counter-terrorism squad and is the presentation of an actual event by the participants complete with the impact of the families of those who were directly involved. When the Israelis were held hostage and faced with death, only other Israelis came to their rescue. When the mission was over and the hostages returned, there is great joy and celebration.

The movie was filmed in Israel with the complete cooperation of the Israeli government and it is an exciting recreation of what happened during those tense days (I was there and I remember it all to well). We get the full scope of the story from the high jacking itself to the passengers being held captive in Uganda to the debates at the highest levels of Israeli government as to whether a military or a diplomatic approach was best. This is a thrilling movie based on a thrilling story of how one tiny country refused to allow terrorists to murder their people and how they took action to prevent it. This film should dispel any notions that Israel is a terrorist state.

An interesting aspect of “Operation Thunderbolt” is that the characters speak their own languages and parts of the film are in German, Arabic, English and German but there are subtitles. The DVD version also has a documentary of the real events and several other bonuses as well.

Who’s Who in Israeli cinema and stage appear in the film as well as other notables from the German and Arabic movie industry. The music by Dov Seltzer is absolutely beautiful. “Operation Thunderbolt” was nominated for the Academy Award as best foreign film when it was released and it certainly deserves that distinction.

Leave a Reply