Israel might have used a magnetic superweapon in the raid on Entebbe

The Raid on Entebbe, though not perfect, was wildly successful. But for years after, people claimed Israel used a magnetic ray gun.
raid on entebbe sid hurwich
Electronics expert Sid Hurwich; Invention used in Entebbe raid (Photo by Dave Norris/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

In 1976, Palestinian and German terrorists hijacked an Air France flight that was flying between Tel Aviv and Athens and on its way to Paris. The terrorists diverted the flight first to Libya and then to Entebbe, Uganda, where they were protected by dictator Idi Amin. When the flight landed, it was met by 100 Ugandan troops to help the terrorists achieve their objectives. 

That same night, the Israel Defense Force conducted a raid on the airport in Entebbe that would rescue most of the hostages, humiliate Amin, and destroy a quarter of the Ugandan Air Force on the ground. The Raid on Entebbe, though not perfect, was wildly successful. But for years after the assault, people claimed Israel used a magnetic ray gun to help confuse and confound the Ugandans. 

The raid itself was a bold, well-executed master stroke of military genius. Israeli transport planes carried 100 commandos some 2,500 miles, entered Uganda and took out 102 of 106 hostages in 90 minutes with just five wounded and one killed in action. All of the hijackers were killed along with 45 Ugandan soldiers. The Israelis even managed to create a fake motorcade, posing as Idi Amin and his entourage. 

Although Israel got official help from the Kenyan government, they still had to fly across the radar and air defense of five other nations on their way to Entebbe, leaving many in the international community to wonder: how did no one see them? Some believed it was a technological innovation that allowed them to evade detection. 

Sid Hurwich was a 64-year-old Canadian appliance repairman who allegedly received an award in the days following the raid. At the Beth Tzedec synagogue in Toronto, he was presented with a Protector of the State of Israel Award by the Zionist Organization of Canada. The reason was a device he had supposedly built for Jerusalem six years prior. Called the Hurwich Device, it was supposed to be the reason Israel was able to pull off a magical victory in Entebbe. 

Hurwich wouldn’t disclose how the device worked, but it was said it could send out an electronic ray that would alter the natural composition of magnetic fields and centers of gravity of weapons, instrument dials and mechanical devices…On the Hurwich principle, there was no reason why the new beams could not disable tanks, ground-to-ground missiles, and complete radar systems,” the Economist reported. Other news outlets also reported that the beams could be tacked together to form a screen that would make whole zones safe from bombs or missiles.

raid on entebbe map
A map of Entebbe Airport on display at a press conference in Israel following Operation Entebbe in which, Israeli special forces rescued 100 hostages held, after a hijacking, at Entebbe Airport in Uganda by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on 3rd July 1976. The planning of the raid was aided by the fact that the airport had been built by an Israeli construction firm and blueprints were available in Israel. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Aside from the alleged construction of his new wonder weapons, there was nothing too special about Hurwich. He didn’t graduate from high school, but he had a gift with electronics, training himself to repair appliances and making a living from a small private business at a time when manufacturers made their own repairs. 

Hurwich supposedly got the idea after reading about a series of bank robberies in his home area. He went to work in his basement with a bunch of spare parts. When police arrived to check out his invention, they couldn’t see it, but their watches and service revolvers were suddenly inoperable. When one of the cops suggested he show it to the Army, he got the idea to send it to his brother, who was living in Israel at the time. The Israelis allegedly bought the design, along with every working model he’d built. 

Other researchers say if the device did exist, it was likely a high-powered electromagnetic field that Hurwich created in his home, but were skeptical about the long-range possibilities of such a device. Hurwich himself says it’s not an invention, just the basic principles of electricity put to a different use.