Syria: Israel Bombed a Chicken Farm, Not a Reactor

Top row: The site before the attack (L.); yellow circles depicting bombs during the airstrike on the site (R.). Bottom row: An explosion during the airstrike on the site (L.); debris seen on the site after the attack (R.). (IDF/Handout via Reuters)

A day after Israel authorized for publication the details of the 2007 operation in which IDF planes destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor under construction, Syria has responded by claiming that it was not a nuclear reactor that Israel blew up – but a chicken farm.

A report on Israel’s Channel One Thursday quoted a “top Syrian official” as making the claim, adding that it was “not logical” to believe that the site was a nuclear reactor. “It was a site for raising chickens,” the official said. “The fact that Syria did not respond is important, it was a decision we made not to be dragged into a war started by Israel.”

Praise for the operation among Israeli political leaders was nearly universal. In a social media post, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that “the Israeli government, the Israel Defense Forces and the Mossad prevented Syria from developing nuclear capability. They deserve full praise for this. Israel’s policy was and remains consistent – to prevent our enemies from arming themselves with nuclear weapons.” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman wrote that “now we can reveal what the government decided in September 2007. There were those in favor of this move, and those who hesitated. The brave decision we made then has proven itself historically. Imagine what would have happened if we had not acted – Syria would have been a nuclear state.”

Meanwhile, Channel 20 reported Wednesday night that, despite the fanfare about publication of details of the attack, those details had actually been published years earlier – with the permission of the military censor. The 2013 book, “The Mossad,” by journalist Nissim Misha’al and former MK Michael Bar-Zohar, discusses the details of the attack, including details that were not reported in the media Wednesday, including the extent of coordination with the Americans on the timing of the attack, and the cooperation between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Binyamin Netanyahu, then head of the opposition. In addition, the book relates how the Mossad recruited several workers at the Syrian facility to provide photos and information about the site.

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