Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Osirak - 25 Years Later

25 years ago eight fighter pilots flew a mission which astounded the world. In less than two minutes, Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor was destroyed. Despite numerous risks, including the jettisoning of fuel tanks surrounded by 1,000lb bombs, all of the Israeli F-16s, and their pilots, returned to base safely.

The Jerusalem Post is running a pair of articles (I, II) which all should read. I also highly recommend the book "Raid on the Sun" which details preperations for and the actual attack.

Menachem Begin on Eve of Osirak
"Saddam Hussein is a hard-headed megalomaniac, cunning, sophisticated and cruel. He is willing to take high risks and drastic action to realize his ambition for self-aggrandizement. His possession and use of a nuclear weapon will enable him to threaten and strike Israel and, thereby, win supremacy over the Arab world. He is prepared to act at an early opportunity, even in the awareness that retaliation might follow." --Opening paragraph of the Mossad's psychological portrait of Hussein.

"What greater act of self-defense could there be than to demolish Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, designed to bring Israel to its knees, kill our people, vaporize our infrastructure - in a word to destroy our nation, our country, our existence? Over these past months I've told you again and again, Sam, that either the US does something to stop that reactor, or we will have to" -Begin to Sam Lewis, US Ambassador to Israel

[P]rowling the room, head down, face grim, arms behind his back, his lips moving imperceptibly in the manner of one muttering Tehillim" -Begin, as he awaited word on the attack

Leader of the Osirak Raid
"Everything went as well as we could have planned. If I were religious, I would tell you it was the hand of god." -then-Lt. Col. Ze'ev Raz, Commander of the F-16's which destroyed the reactor