Defense Minister Ehud Barak raised a toast to the Jewish New Year in an IAF F-15 squadron hangar – in what may be a hint of things to come, and a possible message to Iran that it is not safe from attack. While he never mentioned Iran's name, his words left little doubt what he was referring to.
In the course of the ceremony at Tel Nof IAF base, Barak said: "We have experiences huge tectonic shifts in the entire region in the past year. These shifts create challenges that are among the most complex we have ever faced – both from very close range and from very far away – and these challenges create a need to act and to be ready for action.
"You are here, the Air Force in general and the Double Tail squadron that sits here in these hangars in particular, at the spear's tip of the State of Israel's ability to act at any range."
Barak said that the political tier sees as part of its responsibility to ensure that if wars can be delayed they will be, and if they are embarked upon it is only after all other options have been exhausted, "but we do not live in western Europe and not in North America, this is really a harsh environment, it really is 'a villa in a jungle' and there are hostile forces around us as well."
"The state of Israel in general, the Air Force in particular and this squadron, need and must be highly alert at all times, sharp, determined, precise, so that if there is a necessity to act, we will act and succeed."
"We, myself included, as well as the senior commanders and the citizens of Israel, have faith in you, that if there is indeed a need to act, you will take action and win."
The IAF used F-16 fighters to bomb the Iraqi nuclear plant in 1981, while F-15s circled overhead and provided security.
Photos: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry