‘Hero’ pilot from Entebbe hijacking – who stayed with passengers – dies aged 95
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‘Hero’ pilot from Entebbe hijacking – who stayed with passengers – dies aged 95

Michel Bacos, who was awarded the Legion of Honour for his actions, was honoured by the mayor of Nice for 'refusing with bravery to quit in the face of antisemitism and barbary'

An emotional family reunion after the return of the hijacked Air France passengers from Entebbe.
An emotional family reunion after the return of the hijacked Air France passengers from Entebbe.

The French pilot who is remembered as a hero for his actions in the 1976 hijacking of an Air France plane with Israeli passengers on board to Uganda’s Entebbe airport has died at the age of 95.

Michel Bacos was awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s highest decoration, for refusing to leave the passengers after the plane was hijacked and grounded.

Some 110 hostages were held in the airport terminal for nearly a week by seven pro-Palestinian hijackers before Israeli commandos freed them.

Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said in a statement that Mr Bacos died on Tuesday in the southern French city.

“By refusing with bravery to quit in the face of antisemitism and barbary, he honoured France,” Mr Estrosi said.

Four hostages were killed along with the terrorists.

The Tel Aviv-Paris flight was hijacked on June 27 1976 by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a German terror group.

The hijackers released 148 non-Israeli passengers after the plane landed in Uganda.

Mr Bacos remained with the hostages despite offers of release.

The seven pro-Palestinian hijackers held some 110 Jewish and Israeli hostages in the airport terminal for nearly a week before Israeli commandos led by Yonatan Netanyahu, the older brother of Israel’s current prime minister, freed them.

The commandos flew over 2,500 miles from Israel to Uganda to attempt the daring operation.

Yonatan Netanyahu was the sole Israeli military casualty in the raid on Entebbe.

Three Israeli hostages were killed along with all seven of the hijackers.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Mr Bacos as the “hero captain” of the hijacked Air France flight on Twitter: “I bow my head in his memory and salute Michel’s heroism.”

Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin added that “he refused to leave his Jewish passengers when offered and stayed until the successful IDF operation. A quiet hero and a true friend of the Jewish people. May his memory be a blessing”.

Benny Davidson, one of the former Israeli hostages, remembered Mr Bacos as “a dear man and a great hero”.

Mr Davidson, who was 13 at the time of the hijacking, wrote on Facebook that Mr Bacos “taught us a lesson in leadership, responsibility and exemplarity.”

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