In 2007, Israel Proved To Syria That Nuclear Weapons Were Off-Limits

Daniel R. DePetris

Key point: Israel's doctrine of pre-emptive strike against WMD facilities has been employed twice.

It was late on a Wednesday night in Israel when the director of the Mossad placed an urgent telephone call to then–Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in early March 2007. The Assad regime, the Mossad chief reported, was building a nuclear reactor in the middle of the Syrian desert, and the evidence was incontrovertible.

What followed was a secret, late night Israeli air force operation deep inside Syrian territory that would destroy Bashar al-Assad’s covert effort to build a nuclear weapons program. The actual mission lasted for only a few minutes, but when it was over, Israel would eliminate what one cabinet officer at the time called “an existential threat” to the state. “It was a threat that we couldn’t live with.”

Eleven years later, the Israeli military is finally lifting the veil of censorship and permitting the politicians, ministers, military officers and air force pilots who participated in the operation with the opportunity to talk in public about this highly significant mission. Thanks to reporting from the Israeli media, we now have a more complete picture of what occurred in the lead up to Israel’s airstrike on the Syrian reactor.

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