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Israel’s Track Record of Safeguarding Civilization from Rogue Nuclear Powers

May 8, 2018

by: Ilse Strauss, Bridges for Peace

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently vowed that Israel would not shrink from military action to stop Tehran from satisfying its nuclear ambitions. “We will act, if necessary, against Iran itself,” he said.

Netanyahu did not spell out the implications of his words. He did not have to. Israel has a track record of making good on its pledges to protect its people—and the rest of the world—from the apocalyptic consequences of religious fanatics going nuclear.

Operation “Outside the Box”

Breaking more than a decade of silence, Israel recently admitted to the 2007 destruction of a nuclear reactor in the final stages of construction in Deir ez-Zor, Syria.

An hour before midnight on September 5, 2007, eight F-15s and F-16s took off from the Promised Land, launching Operation “Outside the Box.” They flew to their target in northeastern Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad—with a little help from North Korea—was building a reactor to produce plutonium as fissile material for nuclear bombs.

Officials in the Military Intelligence Directorate had monitored the project for two years and concluded it would become active by the end of 2007, giving Israel’s highly hostile neighbor access to weapons of mass destruction.

Four hours after take-off, the eight warplanes touched down again in the Promised Land. And Assad’s dream of becoming a nuclear power had been reduced to smoldering ruins.

During the Syrian Civil War, ISIS captured the Deir ez-Zor region. Had Israel failed to strike, the doomsday weapons would have fallen into the hands of rabid jihadists.

A Great Clock Ticking

Syria was not Israel’s first foray into safeguarding civilization as we know it from rouge nuclear powers. The Jewish state cut its teeth on a target much further away and without today’s modern technology.

In the late 70s, rapid advances in Iraq’s nuclear program indicated that Bagdad would soon go nuclear. Moreover, President Saddam Hussein made it clear that he would use the weapons to annihilate Israel. “A great clock is ticking over our heads,” then Prime Minister Menachem Begin warned at that time.

On June 7, 1981, eight F-16s took off from the Promised Land for the hour-and-a-half flight to the French-designed Osirak nuclear reactor on the outskirts of Bagdad. In what was later described as “one of the most audacious airstrikes in the history of airpower,” the warplanes obliterated the rounded reactor dome in only two minutes. Hussein’s ambition of a nuclear Iraq was destroyed.

“On behalf of the nation, I thank you,” Begin told the eight pilots upon their return. The rest of the world was less appreciative, initially condemning the operation. That is, until the First Gulf War, when the world realized that Israel’s actions prevented Iraq from coming into the fight as a nuclear power.

What about Iran?

Does Israel’s track record imply that the sons of Judah are putting together plans for a pre-emptive strike to prevent the descendants of ancient Persia from going nuclear? The proverbial jury is still out. Some experts say that a strike on Iranian facilities is just a matter of time. Others ponder whether it will have the desired results. Perhaps the question will remain unanswered…until a squadron of Israeli planes take off from the Promised Land to face the menace in the east.

Photo Credit: Yehuda Boltshauser/shutterstock.com

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