Newly released British documents contain a claim by an unnamed contact that the Shin Bet security service collaborated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to hijack the June 1976 flight from Israel that was diverted to Entebbe, Uganda, the BBC reported Friday.
Israel's rescue of the dozens of hostages taken in the hijacking of the Air France plane, popularly known as the Entebbe raid, is considered one of the most daring and successful operations in Israeli history. Elite Israel Defense Forces troops stormed the airport where the hostages, many of them Israeli, were held and overpowered the hijackers and Ugandan soldiers.
Although the captors used the hijacking to demand the release of Palestinians or Palestinian supporters, a British government file on the incident quotes the unnamed source as telling a British diplomat in Paris that Israel was behind the hijacking. The claim is not known to be backed up by corroborating evidence, and the file does not make it clear whether the British government took the claim seriously.
"The operation was designed to torpedo the PLO's standing in France and to prevent what they see as a growing rapprochement between the PLO and the Americans," the BBC report said British diplomat D.H. Colvin wrote in the document, citing his source.
"My contact said the PFLP had attracted all sorts of wild elements, some of whom had been planted by the Israelis," Colvin reportedly wrote. "According to his information, the hijack was the work of the PFLP, with help from the Israeli Secret Service, the Shin Beit."
The document was written on June 30, 1976, three days after the hijacking and prior to the rescue operation.