Netanyahu kicks off Africa trip in Uganda, where he speaks at a ceremony marking 40 years since the Entebbe operation.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Entebbe, Uganda Monday afternoon to kick-off an historic 5-day trip where he is expected to meet with seven heads of state in four different countries.
"President Yoweri (Museveni), thank you for your kind hospitality and your gracious invitation and your extraordinary friendship," Netanyahu said at a ceremony marking 40 years to the Operation Entebbe.
Netanyahu stated that it was emotional for him to stand "very near where my brother Yoni fell" in the 1976 Israeli commando raid to extract Jewish and Israeli passengers from an Air France flight held hostage at the Entebbe Airport.
"I would like to say first, to my people back home, to the soldiers and commanders here with us today and those who participated in the courageous (Entebbe) mission 40 years today...I am deeply moved standing here in this place where IDF soldiers released our hostages in the heart of Africa, thousands of miles away from Israel. Entebbe is always with me."
"The fight against terror continues still today," he added. "It threatens every country and continent and we must stand united in one spirit, and one front, in the spirit of Entebbe."
Netanyahu told the press Monday before embarking on his historic sojourn to resource rich continent that "All of Africa is excited for this trip and I'm excited as well."
Netanyahu continued by stating that Israel is returning to Africa, and that the Jewish state has great opportunity to strengthen economic and commercial ties with some of the Africa's most promising emerging markets.
The first sitting prime minister to visit sub-Saharan Africa since Yitzhak Shamir visited four western African countries in 1987, Netanyahu is scheduled to arrive at Entebbe in the early afternoon for the ceremony, which will include veterans of the raid that freed over 100 Israelis held in the old terminal building at the airport, as well as some of the hostages.
Netanyahu’s brother Yonatan “Yoni” was killed leading the mission, as were three hostages. A fourth hostage, Dora Bloch, 75, was killed by Idi Amin’s henchmen in a hospital in Kampala. Israel is funding the renovation of a wing in the hospital’s trauma center.
Following the airport ceremony, Netanyahu will meet with seven other African leaders: Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Zambian President Edgar Lungu and Tanzanian Foreign Minister Augustine Mahiga.
“Israel intends to return to Africa, just as Africa is returning to Israel,” Netanyahu told the cabinet on Sunday.