A quiet ceremony was held on Sunday in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery for Lt.-Colonel Yoni Netanyahu, the commander of Sayeret Matkal who fell in the line of duty during the 1976 rescue of hostages in Entebbe. Yoni was the brother of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Perhaps the most newsworthy event surrounding the annual event was the fact that Dr. Chaggai Ben-Artzi, a brother of Mrs. Sara Netanyahu, was outside holding a very large sign which read “Yoni Netanyahu gave his life so Israel would not release terrorists”. He explained he was referring to any planned prisoner release towards obtaining the release of Gilad Shalit.
“They are speaking of releasing hundreds of murderers. It must not happen. What is to prevent them from a new wave of murderous attacks, from killing 4,000 people, if the murderers who perpetrated the Dolphinarium and other attacks are released after a few years”, questioned Ben-Artzi.
The prime minister’s brother-in-law continued. “33 years ago the State of Israel sent members of an elite unit in four planes to avoid the release of 43 terrorists. The norm was that a terrorist who murdered Jews had to serve his time. Therefore, Yoni and his colleagues of the Sayeret set out on their mission and even wrote in ‘Yoni’s Letters’ of the anger against those who wish to release terrorists after Maalot [massacre]. If we begin to release terrorists there will no longer be any deterrence against terror attacks. This is the legacy of Yoni. This is the message I wish to deliver and for this he gave his life”.
Attending the memorial were the prime minister and his wife, along with the veterans of Sayeret Matkal, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and close family and friends.
Yoni Ben-Chanan, 23, the daughter of IDF Major-General Yossi ben-Chanan, explained Yoni Netanyahu saved her dad’s life on the Golan Heights in 1973. That is why she was name for him. She delivered a very emotional eulogy.
Shai Gross, who was 6 when among the captives in Entebbe told his story and that today, he has four children, one of whom was also named after Yoni, the fallen commander of the rescue mission.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)