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Israeli soldiers had been there. samples. No one could know that the name Sayeret Matkal—imThe mission was complicated: get as close to the reactor as possible and return home with pictures and soil Unit—Wpressive, mhile the Mbetter known by its Hebrew any were a few years ossad photos were deep into Syria.
old. Daily satellite imagery of the site was not enough to know what exactly was happening there. Israel wanted to know if the fuel rods had been installed, an important indicator for determwas to becoming operational.ining how close the reactor
the raid served to prove that the IDF could reach the site on the ground. The Cabinet needed to know whether a ground operation was one of the options before approving an attack.lists, had been told what to look for and what samples they would need Beyond the intelligence collection, Israel’s top commandos, the Matka-
to bring back. Wenough to the reactor, the team leader gave the order, and a few of the sol-diers started filling plastic boxes with dirt, soil and plants. They had to dig deep to get the right samples. Radioac-tive exposure was not a concern. Israel hen they were close

was looking for tiny traces of uranium that would have naturally scattered during the reactor’s construction.just a few minutes. Wdone digging, another soldier walked around with a device that looked like a small broom to make sure they hadn’t left any tracks. The last thing The core part of the mission took hen they were
This was definitely a nuclear reactor. The reactor was on its way to becom-they needed was a Syrian army patrol discovering the holes a few days later. Nothing could be left behind.samples. Now, there were no doubts. ing hot. If there was going to be an attack, it had to be soon.The lab results showed positive soil
flew one of the F-16s used to destroy it done,” Yadlin concluded. Wsome of Olmert’s advisers were advo-cating for a larger strike package, he did not argue with Yadlin. It was hard to argue with your intelligence chief when he also happened to be one of the eight pilots who risked his life and “A few planes are all we need to get hile
Iraq’s reactor 26 years earlier.Bush had already said America would not be attacking the reactor, but Olmert wanted to give a heads-up to A few days later, Olmert sent Yadlin on a diplomREADING one more ally—IN MI6atic mGreat Britain.ission overseas.
MIsraelis pulled out of their briefcases it as an “intolerable situation.” ter Gordon Brown and asked that he authorize Sir John Scarlett, head of the powerful British espionage agency prise. Scarlett immediately classified took the British comI6, to meet with Yadlin. WOlmert called British Prime Mpletely by sur-hat the inis-
He had also spent time with Bashar penetrating deep into Arab countries. al-Assad and thought he knew the He was shocked. MI6 is known for