The Secret Mission Israel Prayed to Succeed

Military History

On June 7, 1981, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin summoned his cabinet to a surprise meeting to let them know what he had just done. He proceeded to inform them that he had just authorized a fleet of fighters to destroy Iraq’s new nuclear facility. He then retreated to his office to pray. Begin knew that failing was not an option. His pilots needed to cross over 600 miles of densely-fortified enemy territory, fly low to avoid detection, avoid anti-aircraft machinery and ground-to-air missiles, and make sure to destroy the reactor Osirak on their first try – because there would not be another. If the radar-jamming measures failed, Arab pilots would swarm in and engage in a firefight. Moreover, if one of his airmen was captured, they would be interrogated by the Iraqis, leading to grave consequences for Israel. As Begin waited in his office, praying for a successful mission, the shrill ring of his emergency phone interrupted his thoughts…

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