- The New Yorker: The Silent Strike
Just before midnight on September 5, 2007, four F-15s and four F-16s took off from Israeli Air Force bases, including Ramat David, southeast of Haifa. After flying north along the Mediterranean Coast, the planes turned east and followed the Syrian-Turkish border, to avoid detection by radar. Using standard electronic scrambling tools, the Israelis blinded Syria’s air-defense system. In Tel Aviv, in a room of the underground I.A.F. command-and-control center known as “the pit,” Olmert, Barak, Livni, and senior security officials followed the planes by radar. The room would serve as a bunker for Olmert in the event that the strike sparked a war; the Israelis had also prepared a military contingency plan.
General Shkedi tracked the pilots by audio in an adjacent room. Sometime between 12:40 and 12:53 A.M., the pilots uttered the computer-generated code word of the day, “Arizona,” indicating that seventeen tons of explosives had been dropped on their target. “There was a sense of elation,” one participant recalled. “The reactor was destroyed and we did not lose a pilot.”
The next day, the Syrian Arab News Agency announced that Israeli planes had entered Syrian airspace but had been repelled: “Air-defense units confronted them and forced them to leave after they dropped some ammunition in deserted areas without causing any human or material damage.” The Israelis say that not a single Syrian air-defense missile was launched. At least ten, and perhaps as many as three dozen, workers were killed in the strike.