By Frank Kamuntu
Israel’s Prime Minister Banjamin Netanyahu is set to visit Uganda next week, after 44 years since the death of his elder brother Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, who was killed in operation Thunderbolt, a successful counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission that was carried out by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commandos at Entebbe Airport in 1976.
The operation left all the hijackers and forty-five Ugandan soldiers killed, and eleven Soviet-built MiG-17s and MiG-21s of Uganda’s Air Force bombed.
Sources however don’t reveal how long Netanyahu’s trip will be or what the purpose is, because Netanyahu last visited Uganda in 2016 to mark 40 years since his brother was killed in an anti-terror raid at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport during Iddi Amin’s regime.
This also comes amidst word that Uganda plans open an embassy in Jerusalem; sources close to the Ugandan government and the Ugandan Christian community told journalists that the move has been in the works for three years.
Therefore if Uganda moves its embassy to Jerusalem it will be the third embassy to designate Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, following American, Guatemala and Paraguay, the latter which has since withdrawn the decision.
In 2018, Israel sought a deal to send African migrants in Israel to Uganda, but the efforts broke down without an agreement. At a campaign event earlier this month, Netanyahu vowed to deport the “infiltrators” still in Israel saying that they are also working on this.
The reported trip of Netanyahu’s to Uganda would come weeks before the March 2 elections in Israel and on the heels of high-profile visits to the United States and Russia.
Netanyahu’s visit to Uganda will come days after the prime minister traveled to the United States to meet with US President Donald Trump and unveil the “Deal of the Century” peace plan, and to Russia to help obtain the pardoning of Israeli tourist Issachar Naama an Israeli-American who was jailed in Russia on drug charges.
Issachar had become a cause célèbre in Israel, where her arrest and 7.5 year sentence were largely viewed as politically motivated. Netanyahu promised the family to work for her release and has expressed hopes for securing a pardon.
The announcement Tuesday by the Prime Minister’s Office of the trip to Russia came less than an hour after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit filed an indictment against Netanyahu for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust with the Jerusalem District Court.
However, Netanyahu denies wrongdoing and has claimed the charges are an effort by political rivals the media and investigators to boot him from office.