Report: Israel planned to use ‘atomic device’ during Six Day War in Sinai to intimidate Arab forces

An American research institute will release classified documents that indicate that Israel intended to use a nuclear bomb in the Sinai Peninsula in order to intimidate the Arab forces during the 1967 war, according to the New York Times. The documents will be released tomorrow.
Photo Credit: Israeli Defense Ministry's IDF Archive/Channel 2 News

On Saturday evening, the New York Times reported that classified documents about Israel’s plan to assemble a nuclear bomb before and during the Six Day War will be released on Monday by the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. The documents, which will be uploaded to a special website, include a digital archive of the Avner Cohen Collection.

The New York Times article claims that in June 1967, “Israeli officials raced to assemble an atomic device and developed a plan to detonate it atop a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula.” According to the report, which is based on Cohen’s research and other reports, Israel planned to use the bomb “as a warning to Egyptian and other Arab forces.”

The plan was called the “doomsday operation” by Itzhak Yaakov, a former top Israeli defense establishment official who was in charge of the IDF’s nuclear weapons development program. Yaakov said that the bomb would have only been used if Israel felt that it was going to be defeated in the Six Day War. Yaakov said that senior Israeli officials believed that the blast would intimidate Jordan, Syria and Iraq and prompt them to stand down.

“It’s the last secret of the 1967 war,” said Cohen, who reportedly heard Yaakov talk about the plan before he passed away in 2013. “Look, it was so natural,” Yaakov told Cohen, according to a transcription of a taped conversation between the two from the 1990s. “You’ve got an enemy, and he says he’s going to throw you to the sea. You believe him. How can you stop him? You scare him. If you’ve got something you can scare him with, you scare him.” In 2001, Yaakov was arrested on charges that he harmed Israel’s security by sharing details about the country’s nuclear program with an Israeli reporter.

“The goal was to create a new situation on the ground, a situation which would force the great powers to intervene, or a situation which would force the Egyptians to stop and say, ‘Wait a minute, we didn’t prepare for that,’” Yaakov told Cohen. “The objective was to change the picture.”



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