Yonatan Netanyahu was born in New York City, the eldest son of Israeli professor Benzion Netanyahu and his wife Tzila Segal. His younger brother Benjamin Netanyahu became Prime Minister of Israel. He grew up in the USA and then joined the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during the 1967 Six-Day War. After the war, he briefly attended Harvard University, then transferred to Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He left his studies to return to the IDF and was decorated for distinguished service in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. On July 4, 1976, he commanded an elite commando unit during an operation at the airport in Entebbe, Uganda to rescue hostages held by terrorists. Netanyahu was killed in action, the only IDF fatality during the mission. His letters have been published in several volumes, including Self-Portrait of a Hero: From the Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu, 1963–1976 (1998).