“This is no ordinary mission. You all read the Bible. You know the history of our people. Our people have overcome the agony of the holocaust. We’ve survived wars in 1948, 1956, 1967, the War of Attrition in 1970, and the Yum Kippur War. And mow we are faced with the greatest threat in the long history of Israel—annihilation and destruction of our country with atomic bombs by a madman terrorist who cares nothing for human life. We must not allow him to achieve the ability to build the bomb that could destroy us. That’s what this mission this afternoon is all about. Protecting our country. The future of Israel rests on your skill and ability to destroy that nuclear reactor. You must be successful—or we as a people are doomed. This is a pivotal point in the history of Israel. If we are to live by the sword, let us see that it’s kept strong in the hand rather than at our throat.” Chief of Staff General Raful Eitan who had just lost a son, was addressing the soldiers who were going on a mission, on Sunday, June 7, 1981 to destroy the nuclear reactor in Al-Tuwaitha, IRAQ
One of the pilots on this successful mission later died when the space shuttle Columbia broke over the vastness of Texas as it reentered the atmosphere. Ilan Ramon was the mission’s youngest pilot and first Israeli Astronaut.
The irony of this story is that Israel is now concerned about the vulnerability of its nuclear reactor. They are considering deactivating the reactor to prevent an attack that would contaminate a vast amount of land if it happens to be a successful attack.