What began with great anxiety, with a terrifying ring of Arab armies encircling the Jewish country from all sides and seemingly overwhelming the Israel Defense Forces in strength, ended with great and amazing miracles that awoke the whole world, when we returned all parts of our Holy Land, especially Jerusalem and Mount Moriah and the remains of our Temple — the Western Wall — by the grace of the Almighty.
And it happened in only six days, with tremendously low casualties, contrary to all estimates and predictions and with the collapse of all the hostile armies.
How we almost used “what we don’t have”: a little-known and surprising story from the Six-day War
One of the most unexpected stories, which has become known only in the last few years, is just how close Israel was on that day to using its most terrifying weapon. I am referring to the atomic explosion that would have been launched in the Sinai Peninsula to intimidate the armies of Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Jordan. The plan was called “Samson” (“Shimshon”), after the famous Talmud hero who brought down the roof of the building on the Philistines and died under the remains, as well as his enemies.
The deceased Brigadier General Yitzhak Yaakov (whom many knew by the nickname “Yatsa”) was one of the founders of the Research and Development Department at the Ministry of Defense. Back in the days, Yaacov was a member of the Palmach and took part in many combat operations during the War of Independence. After the war he took a course for battalion commanders, then studied mechanical engineering, and after completing his academic studies in the U.S. he was appointed head of the Weapons Means department within the IDF General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. In this position he took part in the Six Day War and later held various high-ranking positions in the Israeli army. After his service he went into business, contributing to Israel’s security and the development of the country’s high-tech industry.
However, despite all his previous contributions, he was arrested in 2001 and charged with disclosing secret information related to the nuclear issue. According to the indictment, this information was not disclosed on purpose, but only as part of his memoirs and in an interview in which Yitzhak Yaacov revealed how Israel had planned to use nuclear weapons in the Six Day War. His full interview (in English) can be found on the Wilson Institute website.
Israeli prosecutors took into account that Yitzhak Yaacov did not intend to harm the security of Israel and, moreover, that he devoted many years of his life to strengthening the Jewish state, and therefore he received a relatively light sentence of two given a two-year suspended sentence. Below I cite the most important points from the interview with the deceased Yitzhak Ya’akov that led to his arrest and punishment.
1. On the starting day of the Six Day War, Israel possessed a nuclear “device”. The Jewish state didn’t have bombs that were ready to be dropped from airplanes. And there were no missiles with nuclear warheads. But there was a “device” that could be placed in a certain place, assembled in a few hours, and then detonated to produce an atomic explosion.
2. Yitzhak Yaakov arrived in Israel a few weeks before the war began and met with Lieutenant General “Gandhi” (Rehavam Ze’evi), then Deputy Chief of Operations of the Israel Defense Forces General Staff, “who was in a terrible state... believing that Israel was in colossal trouble.” “Gandhi” ordered Yaakov to “prepare everything he has” that is, to prepare all available special military weapons. Yitzhak also reports in this interview that “all the politicians” discussing this situation assumed that this was, G-d forbid, the end of Israel.
3. Yitzhak Yaakov and the other technicians began to initiate, prepared by “Gandhi”, the operational order to conduct an atomic explosion, and managed to sign it with Chief of Staff Rabin, who, according to Yitzhak Yaakov, “was already very bad” (as we know, just before the war began, Rabin finally lost his ability to function and make decisions).
4. One of Israel’s most serious concerns was related to information received from the Mossad that Egypt possessed hundreds of missiles, half with chemical warheads (possibly with the nerve gas sarin) and the other half with radioactive (cobalt) warheads. The Israel Defense Forces carried out drills and assessments in preparation for a possible attack on Tel Aviv with these terrible weapons. In fact, the horror of such an attack was one of the main reasons for discussing the “Samson” plan.
5. The “Samson” plan consisted of two parts. In the first part, a “Super Frelon” transport helicopter (Sud Aviacion SA.321) would airlift a unit of the 35th “Tsankhanim” Parachute Brigade, whose mission was to engage with Egyptian forces. Then another helicopter was supposed to take the “device” engineers (who could assemble it and knew how to activate it) as well as fighters of the “Sayeret Matkal” (a special unit of the Israel Defense Forces General Staff) to a mountain near Abu Agheil, a major transport hub in the northeastern part of the Sinai Peninsula, which served as a gathering place for large Egyptian formations of troops.
6. The plan was a response to potential Egyptian troops breaking through the Israeli defense line and invading the territory of the Jewish state. The Egyptian push to Ashdod was seen as a “red line”, in which case the nuclear device would be activated, causing an atomic explosion visible throughout Sinai and possibly Cairo, leading to immediate involvement and pressure from world powers, as well as a change in the situation on the ground. The nuclear device was not aimed at destroying the Egyptian army in Sinai, nor did it have any such capabilities. Only in case the Egyptian army, G-d forbid, was to break into Israeli territory ,this explosion should produce an effective terrifying force against the Egyptians and initiate immediate international pressure to stop the fighting.
7. The nuclear device was called the Spider, and once it was installed on the mountain and assembled, the engineers and fighters had to go down into a nearby canyon and hide, waiting for the order to detonate the explosive device.
8. A few days before the war, a helicopter with Yitzhak and “Sayaret Matkal” commander Dovik Tamari was dispatched to Sinai, deep into Egyptian territory. The helicopter reached the chosen mountain, but at this point the pilot received an alert about the Egyptian fighters, and they were forced to return. The flight was used to reconnaissance and select a location for the nuclear device and to determine the canyon where the developers and fighters would be able stay at the time of the explosion.
9. On the first day of the war, when there were still serious fears that the Egyptian army would manage to break through into Israel, the “Sayeret Matkal,” along with Yitzhak and his engineers, remained in reserve, waiting for a possible order. "“The device” had already been moved to where it could be loaded onto a helicopter. After our air force had destroyed most of the Egyptian air force in the early hours of the morning, the IDF thought the Egyptians might respond with a launch of their rockets, but that never happened. Later it turned out that the missiles were not operational. This is evident from the interview itself, as well as from many other known sources of information. Then our air force struck the Egyptian air force with another wave of bombardments, after which it became clear that the war would end with an Israeli victory.
10. So preparations to implement the “Samson” plan were made only on the first day of the war, as confirmed by the words of the then Deputy Chief of General Staff, Chaim Bar-Lev. On the second day of the war, the General Staff began to celebrate the victory... and the “Samson” plan was removed from the agenda.
This interview confirms to even greater extent the scale of the victory miracle that the Almighty, blessed be his name, granted us during the Six-Day War.
We should remind you that according to Yitzhak Yaakov all the politicians thought that this was “the end of Israel”, and that the Chief of Army Staff, Rabin, lost his ability to make decisions on the starting point of the war. But the Lubavitcher Rebbe King Moshiach SHLITA, in his speech to tens of thousands of people even before the war, promised, with G-d’s help, a great victory. The Lubavitcher Rebbe King Moshiach SHLITA said that there was no reason to be afraid, and no need to leave Israel, and that the Almighty would keep the people of Israel safe in the Holy Land.
Another amazing fact is that since the beginning of the war, when various media both in Israel and abroad were talking about Israel’s collapse (because that is how all the Arab media described it, while in Israel at the time the army imposed a ban on any reports), the Rebbe said that Israel would win, and in three days the Western Wall would be in our hands. And so it happened!
All of the Rebbe’s prophecies were fulfilled! And this further reinforces our simple faith in the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s words that we are the “last generation of exile,” and therefore we will all be liberated very soon. And the Rebbe also told us that the head and prophet of the generation — that is, he himself — is the Moshiach of our generation. And the head of the generation is alive and in good health — soul in body — according to the Torah.
May we be granted true and complete Redemption through amazing miracles in the very near future!