How Middle East Conflict Could've Gone Nuclear

Israel reportedly planned to detonate atomic device during 1967 war
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2017 12:59 PM CDT

(Newser) – Israel has never officially admitted that it developed nuclear weapons. But in interviews recorded nearly two decades ago, a former Israeli brigadier general describes a "doomsday operation" to detonate an atomic weapon on top of a mountain near Egypt during the Arab-Israeli war. Avner Cohen, an expert on Israel's nuclear history, tells the New York Times the plan is "the last secret of the 1967 war." Cohen interviewed Itzhak Yaakov—a "key organizer" of the plan, code-named "Samson" after the super-strong biblical hero—multiple times in 1999 and 2000. Those interviews—and other documents related to the plan—will be made public this week on the 50th anniversary of the start of the Arab-Israeli war.

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Yaakov, who died in 2013, told Cohen the plan was to detonate an atomic bomb on a mountain on the Sinai Peninsula if it looked like Israel was going to lose the war. This would either scare Egypt and other Arab forces enough to rethink things, or it would cause world powers to intervene in the conflict. Yaakov said the only way to stop an enemy who was "going to throw you to the sea" was to "scare him." The casualties that would have resulted from the plan are unclear. The US considered a similar plan in regards to Japan during WWII before deciding to bomb the country directly. Israel's atomic weapon was never moved to the mountain due the speed at which Israel won the war, and the plan was never carried out. Read the full story here. (Read more Israel stories.)

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