As we approached the massive black iron gates in our overwhelmed up white van, we have been stopped by a pair of younger, muscular safety guards flashing M-16 rifles. On the sight of the outdated clunker, they little question assumed we have been simply one other supply truck.
They peered within the automotive and, with a glance of shock, rapidly waved us via. We have been led into the storage, and because the automotive got here to a halt, I stepped out with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following proper behind.
It was the summer season of 2007, and I had just lately joined Netanyahu’s opposition workers as adviser for Overseas Affairs. This was my first go to to the Prime Minister’s Workplace on this capability. As we made our means up the steps from the tunnel, I slowly took all of it in. Our objective was to get Netanyahu again into this constructing – not as a customer however because the tenant.
My ideas have been interrupted as we entered the Aquarium, the interior sanctuary of the Prime Minister’s Workplace, named as such due to the massive glass wall at its entrance. It’s behind that cup that the prime minister’s closest advisers work, the place the safety cupboard meets, and the place the private workplace of the prime minister is nestled within the far nook.
We sat momentarily on the antiquated leather-based couches within the Aquarium hallway earlier than Prime Minister Ehud Olmert got here out. I had met Olmert quite a few instances through the years when he was nonetheless a member of Likud, and he greeted me warmly and congratulated me on becoming a member of Netanyahu’s group. He proceeded to ask Netanyahu inside his workplace and get the assembly began.
As I sat and waited, one among Olmert’s advisers, an outdated pal, got here out to maintain me firm. She defined to me that there’s a authorized obligation for the prime minister to fulfill and replace the top of the opposition frequently. I used to be advised that this assembly, like these earlier than and after, have been routine.
One hour later Netanyahu exited, and we rapidly made our means out the glass doorways and all the way down to the automotive. As we drove off, Netanyahu stared out the slim window with a glance of contemplation on his face, misplaced in thought. I sensed that this assembly was not simply one other routine assembly.
Later I might discover out that this occurred just some weeks earlier than Olmert ordered the assault of the Syrian nuclear reactor.
What I used to be not aware about in that assembly of prime ministers I devoured years later within the pages of Yaakov Katz’s spectacular new e book, Shadow Strike.
Whereas Shadow Strike reads like a novel, Katz’s account of this pivotal episode and its significance in trendy Israel historical past will not be misplaced.
The e book begins with Olmert following the civil battle in Syria and the world fright that ensued after ISIS conquered massive swaths of the wartorn nation. Olmert wonders the place Israel, and for that matter the area and full world, could be as we speak if Israel had not acted just some years earlier.
Olmert was a powerful believer in what has change into often called the Start Doctrine: by no means enable Israel’s enemies to accumulate the means to threaten it existentially. Upon studying of the Syrian nuclear facility, Olmert acts decisively to fulfill this problem.
Katz walks the reader via the Mossad and Army Intelligence clandestine efforts in each figuring out after which validating the intelligence that led them to an remoted constructing within the Syrian dessert.
Within the aftermath of the Second Lebanon Struggle, a battered and bruised Olmert enlists former Mossad chief Meir Dagan to persuade the US to behave on this pending risk. With Israel’s daunting intelligence in tow, Dagan presents arduous proof of North Korean involvement within the constructing of a nuclear facility in al-Kabir, Syria, leaving a shocked White Home, CIA, and NSA.
Over the next weeks and months Israel shares extra intelligence, and anxiously awaits the US choice. Hope remained that president George W. Bush – as a part of his put up 9/11 efforts to forestall rogue nations from buying nuclear weapons – would take the required navy motion. In parallel, Olmert consults together with his protection ministers – first Peretz after which Barak – and orders the Israeli Protection Power to organize its personal navy choices.
Katz takes us via the interior deliberations of a US administration with conflicting personalities and various worldviews: vp Dick Cheney calling for US navy motion, whereas secretary of state Condoleezza Rice pushes for diplomacy. Whereas Cheney was the president’s nice confidant in issues of nationwide safety, and undoubtedly probably the most influential vp in American historical past, it was in the end Rice who had the assist of the NSC and the Pentagon towards navy engagement. Being slowed down in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush determined towards any motion right now.
Upon listening to from Bush that the US will initially try the diplomatic observe, a stern and resolute Olmert responds that Israel will do what it has to do.
Katz introduces the reader to the senior gamers in Israel’s Army Intelligence, Air Power, Mossad, and IDF Normal Workers as they meticulously and cautiously map out quite a few prospects for assault.
The reader is aware about the interior dilemmas and debates of the Israeli political management. Whereas Katz – editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Publish – doesn’t spare Olmert criticism for his position within the Second Lebanon Struggle, he’s portrayed as dealing with this epic problem with knowledge and willpower.
When the assault lastly does transpire, its success is overshadowed by the worry of a possible Syrian navy retaliation that might result in an all-out battle. The technique adopted to keep away from such an final result was coined the “deniability zone” whereby Israel didn’t take credit score or acknowledge the assault, thus permitting Syrian President Bashar Assad to disregard the incident and faux the nuclear facility was by no means constructed.
Over the previous decade, Israel’s position within the assault was reported within the worldwide media, however solely just lately did Israel formally acknowledge it. Shadow Strike is the primary detailed account of this historic occasion.
Whereas our story tells the story of Israel’s assault on Syria, Katz can not assist however end by evaluating and contrasting the state of affairs with the Iranian march towards growing nuclear weapons. Though a way more complicated problem militarily and diplomatically, the reader is left to contemplate whether or not the times of the Start Doctrine have elapsed, or whether or not Israel can nonetheless take away existential weapons from virulent enemies.
A grasp storyteller, Katz magically traverses between the US and Israel, between the Mossad and Army Intelligence, and between diplomacy and politics.
Whereas Shadow Strike is a mesmerizing page-turner, Katz is ready to poignantly convey the gravity of the challenges many world leaders face whereas their actions determine the fates of hundreds of thousands.
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