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IDF chief: 2007 reactor strike shows Israel will not tolerate threats to its existence

“Marking 10 years since that operation and looking at the Middle East, we fully understand how much [that operation] has affected reality,” said Israeli Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot at a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on Jan. 2, 2018. Photo by Flash90.
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot at a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on Jan. 2, 2018. Photo by Flash90.

The message from the strike on the Syrian nuclear reactor is clear: Israel will not tolerate existential threats, said Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot on Wednesday, after the Israeli military confirmed it carried out the 2007 airstrike that destroyed a nuclear reactor being built in eastern Syria.

Although Israel was widely believed to have been behind the airstrike on the Deir ez-Zor facility on  Sept. 6, 2007, it has never before commented publicly on it.

Israel’s Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz suggested on Wednesday that the timing of the revelation meant to send a message to Iran. “The operation and its success made clear that Israel will never allow nuclear weaponry to be in the hands of those who threaten its existence—Syria then, and Iran today,” he wrote on Twitter.

A statement by Eizenkot said: “The message from the attack on the nuclear reactor in 2007 is that the State of Israel will not allow the development of capabilities that threaten its very existence. That was our message in 2007, this remains our message today, and it will remain our message to the enemy in the future.”

The chief of staff described the attack as “the most significant strike in Syria since the [1973] Yom Kippur War.”

Israeli Air Force Chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said the current turmoil in Syria has further vindicated the strike, particularly since the reactor was in an area later captured by Islamic State militants.

“Marking 10 years since that operation and looking at the Middle East, we fully understand how much it has affected reality,” he said. “Imagine what situation we would be in today if there was a nuclear reactor in Syria. In historic hindsight, I think Israel’s decision to destroy the reactor is one of the most important decisions taken here in the last 70 years.”

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