Liberman: Squabbling over credit for strike on Syrian reactor an 'embarrassment'

Earlier Liberman had praised the attack, calling it a warning to Israel's enemies.

March 21, 2018 07:34
3 minute read.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks in Tel Aviv

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)


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Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman expressed regret for approving the publication of details of Israel’s airstrike on a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, saying the media circus caused by it was an “embarrassment.”

Liberman said the squabbling of former defense establishment officials over who was responsible for the success of the operation was an embarrassment to the decision taken that evening at the Kirya Military Headquarters in Tel Aviv.

“The dance of demons and the waves of mutual slanders that have been taking place since the morning between former generals is irresponsible, embarrassing the decision made in September 2007 and does an injustice to the pilots and intelligence personnel who took part in it.”

“Had it not been for the censorship, which prevented the disclosure of classified information until today, serious damage to state security would have been caused. I call on everyone to act responsibly. Credit isn’t everything in life"

Earlier in the day Liberman, who is in Africa on a four-day trip to the continent, praised Israel’s bombing of Syria’s nuclear reactor in 2007, warning Israel’s enemies that the Jewish state will continue to act for its national security interests.

The Israeli military on Wednesday took responsibility for destroying a nuclear reactor built in the northeastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zor in 2007 after a decade of ambiguity, and in his praise, Liberman warned the region that Israeli might has in the past decade only grown.

“The motivation of our enemies has increased in recent years, but so has the strength of the IDF. Air force and intelligence capabilities have intensified and expanded [vastly] from the capabilities we had in 2007,” Liberman, who was minister of strategic affairs at the time, said.

“Everyone in the Middle East would do well to internalize this equation.”
IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot's First Hand Account of of the Attack on the Syrian Nuclear Facility in 2007, When He was the GOC of the Northern Command (IDF)

“Today we can learn what we did in the cabinet in September 2007. There were those who pushed, and there were those who hesitated. The historic and courageous decision proved then, as now, that national security must not be deterred. We should follow national interests, make decisions and take action when necessary,” he added.

“Try to imagine what would have happened if we had not [carried out the strike]. We would have gotten a nuclear Syria.”

Intelligence Minister Israel Katz echoed Liberman’s warning, posting on Twitter that the lifting of the gag order is a warning to Israel’s enemies.

“The courageous decision of the Israeli government almost 11 years ago to destroy the nuclear reactor in Syria and the successful operation following it send a clear message: Israel will never allow nuclear weapons to countries like Iran that threaten its existence.”

MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Union), who was defense minister at the time until he was replaced by Ehud Barak two-and-a-half months before the operation, wrote on his Facebook page that the destruction of the nuclear reactor is an important chapter in Israel’s history.

All those involved in the operation approached it “with a heavy sense of responsibility” for the security of the nation and its citizens, he wrote, adding that “it has been made clear that the State of Israel will not stand by helplessly but will take any action needed to eliminate an existential threat.”

Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who at the time was OC Northern Command, made similar comments, stating that the message sent by Israel was that it would not accept any existential threats.

“The message from the attack on the reactor in 2007 was that Israel would not accept the construction of a facility that would constitute an existential threat to the State of Israel,” he said. “This is the message to our enemies in the near and far future.”

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