Israel military admits bombing Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

Gladys Abbott
March 22, 2018

Israel for the first time confirmed that it bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, saying on Wednesday that the strike removed a major threat to Israel and the region and was a "message" to others.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: "The motivation of our enemies has grown in recent years, but so too the might of the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces)". "Everyone in the Middle East would do well to internalize this equation".

Wednesday's announcement marks the second time that Israel has acknowledged destroying the nuclear reactor of an enemy country.

"Prime Minister Olmert's execution of the strike made up for the confidence I had lost in the Israelis during the Lebanon war", Bush wrote, adding that the Israeli leader rejected a suggestion to go public with the operation.

Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

An Israeli military spokesperson declined to respond to questions related to the admission and the release of the documents, including over the timing, which could be seen as a warning regarding Iran's activities.

The strike, which took less than four hours in total, constituted a resounding success from Israel's point of view since it destroyed the site and strengthened deterrence while preventing all-out war.

Syria has repeatedly denied that the bombed site was a nuclear reactor.

A screen grab from a video of an undated material released by the Israeli military on March 21, 2018 shows the site during what the military describes is an Israeli air strike on a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor site near Deir al-Zor on Sept 6, 2007.

The strike destroyed the reactor, which was mere months from completion.

Israel had acted before against the nuclear ambitions of its neighbours, notably in 1981 when it attacked a reactor under construction in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

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The strike had already been extensively reported on overseas, and discussed by USA officials.

The disclosure is likely created to send the message that Israel will not falter in carrying out similar attacks on Iran.

It also suggested that it was being built with the help of North Korea.

The Israeli military disclosed that 2 groups of jets flew at low altitude toward the target to avoid detection by Syria's radar.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has deemed it "very likely" that the site "was a nuclear reactor that should have been declared".

The military said the F-15s took off from two bases in southern Israel at 10:30 p.m. on September 5 and returned four hours later.

Israel determined that the alleged reactor was "totally disabled, and that the damage done was irreversible". "And that is the message to our enemies for the future", said IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. The two countries are still technically at war.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said at the time that the attack targeted an unused military building.

Concern is growing that the confrontation between Israel and Iran will escalate further.

Uzi Rabi, an expert on Iran at Tel Aviv University, said Israel's surprising confirmation might be meant as a "warning sign" to Iran as it expands its military footprint in Syria. That was the message in 2007.

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