In June 1976, Dora Bloch, a dual Israeli-British citizen, was a hostage on Air France Flight 139 from Tel Aviv to New York, which was hijacked after a stopover in Athens and rerouted to Entebbe, Uganda. Bloch was taken ill on the plane and was taken to a hospital in Kampala; she was not rescued with the other hostages during Operation Entebbe, but went missing from the hospital. Her disappearance led to Britain cutting diplomatic ties with Uganda. Her body was discovered in 1979 in a sugar plantation near the capital. In February 2007, declassified British documents confirmed that she was killed on the order of Idi Amin.
Dora Feinberg was born in Jaffa, Israel. Her father, Joseph Feinberg, was one of the founders of the Jewish agricultural settlement of Rishon LeZion. After her father's death, she was raised by an uncle in Egypt. She moved to Jerusalem as an adult. In 1925 she married Aharon Bloch, a naturalized citizen of the United Kingdom, which gave her British citizenship. They had three sons. She spoke Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, German, Italian, and English. In 1976 she was a grandmother and a widow living in Tel Aviv.
On 27 June 1976, Bloch, aged 74, was on Air France Flight 139, an Airbus A300 plane. She was travelling to New York City for her youngest son Daniel's wedding. The flight was hijacked by terrorists after a stopover in Athens and was redirected to Entebbe, Uganda. With her fluency in languages, Bloch served as an interpreter between the hostages and hijackers. Bloch's son, Ilan Hartuv, with whom she had been travelling, was released during the subsequent Operation Entebbe counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission.
Bloch was taken ill on the plane and was transferred to a hospital in Kampala. She is believed to have choked on food, and Foreign and Commonwealth Office papers say that she was also being treated for leg ulcers while at the hospital. During her hospital stay, she was visited by James Hennessy, the then-High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Uganda.
Henry Kyemba, then Uganda's Minister of Health, said that he had allowed Bloch to stay in hospital for an extra night before being returned to the other hostages. However, she disappeared from her hospital bed, and on 13 July, MP Ted Rowlands said that she was presumed dead. Kyemba later said that Bloch had been dragged from her hospital bed and murdered by members of the Ugandan Army loyal to Idi Amin. The policeman guarding Bloch was also killed. A suggested motive for her killing was as retaliation for the deaths of 50 Ugandan soldiers during Operation Entebbe.
On 28 July 1976, Britain cut all diplomatic ties with Uganda as a result of Bloch's disappearance. It was the first time in 30 years that Britain had severed ties with a Commonwealth country.
Recovery of body
Bloch's body was discovered in 1979 in a sugar plantation around 20 miles (32Â km) from Kampala. Visual identification was precluded by her face being badly burned, but the corpse showed signs of a leg ulcer. Bloch was given an Israeli state funeral and was buried at Har HaMenuchot.
Declassified British documents released in February 2007 confirmed that Bloch had been killed on Idi Amin's orders. According to the documents, a Ugandan citizen told the British High Commissioner in Kampala that Bloch had been shot and her body deposited into the trunk of a car with Ugandan intelligence services license plates. The documents also showed that Britain continued to press Amin for information on Bloch's whereabouts, and that Amin continually denied knowledge of her fate.