President Shimon Peres on Monday, 15 Tishrei 5773 took part in the 19th Storytellers Festival, providing those present with a rare look into the behind the scenes workings of the government.
In his reference to the establishment of the Dimona nuclear facility, which was referred to as the “textile factory” the president spoke of how Finance Minister Levi Eshkol promised him that he would not fund the project, telling him “you won’t see a dime!”
He also spoke of the discussions that took place in 1976, when they deliberated possibly sending commandos to Entebbe, 4,000km away to rescue 101 Jews taken hostage. The president reports the decision was made to comply with the ransom demands being made by terrorists and he did not agree that this was the way to go and he persuaded Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin to order the commando mission known as the Entebbe Operation.
He explained they referred to the young officers, Yoni Netanyahu, Yekutiel Adam and Dan Shomron, known as the “Fantasy Headquarters” as they studied maps in an effort to devise a plan, a plan the government did not believe was feasible. He explained that Rabin was not optimistic regarding the success of a rescue operation and therefore, he wanted to meet the terrorist’s demands to avoid harm to the hostages.
He promised Ugandan leader Idi Amin a Nobel Prize for his part in assisting to rescue the hostages while spending the entire night on the phone with IDF Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur, persuading him to approve the rescue mission. He added that when the first terrorist deadline passed and nothing occurred, Gur and Rabin gave the okay for the commando mission.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)