Intelligence services and secret operations by their very nature are surrounded by mystery and conspiracy theories. We are going to look at ten well-documented operations that were top secret at the time, or grossly misrepresented in the media so that their real nature and purpose was never clear to the public. Although most of them have now been declassified, many questions, some deeply disturbing, still remain.
#10. The Secret of Operation Doomsday
The six-day war of 1967 between Israel and the coalition of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria is a well-known chapter of modern history. One thankfully unrealized contingency plan of that conflict, however, remained hidden in a top-secret file until fairly recently. Today, it’s known as the Samson Option or Operation Doomsday. Yitzchak Yakov, the Israeli general responsible for overseeing the Israeli nuclear program at the time of the conflict, outlined the details of the plan in an interview with the historian Avner Cohen in 1999. 32 years after the end of the war, the world finally saw how close it had been to a nuclear war with unimaginable international consequences.
It was actually the third military confrontation in the middle east since the end of the 2nd World War. The armies of the Arab coalition certainly had the advantage in numbers. Israel, however, was undoubtedly better armed and far superior strategically. According to General Yakov, the Israelis were planning to install a nuclear bomb on top of the Mountain on the Sinai peninsula, close to the Abu Ageila military complex. Its purpose was to scare off the coalition armies, should Israel be forced back. Fortunately, there was no need to deploy the nuclear warhead, as the Arab coalition crumbled within 6 days.
The documents now available suggest that the order to detonate the warhead would have had to be given by the Israeli Prime Minister and only if there was a real and immediate existential threat to the state of Israel. Most historians agree that Israel was not entirely serious in its intent to employ nuclear force. However, unless Yakov was lying, Israel was in possession of a nuclear weapon in 1967. One shudders to imagine what the international consequences might have been had Israel felt obliged to use that nuclear bomb over half a century ago.
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