Operation Opera
Operation OperaScreenshot

Thirty years ago Tuesday, on Sunday, June 7, 1981, eight IAF F-16s and and six F-15s took off from the IAF's Etzion Base in northern Sinai. Their destination was the Iraqi nuclear plant at Al-Tuweitha, near Baghdad.

The youngest F-16 pilot was Captain Ilan Ramon, 25. He volunteered to fly last in the attack formation -- the most dangerous position -- because he had no wife or children.

The strike made history and denied Iraq's Saddam Hussein his dream of nuclear weapons. He was eventually toppled and executed after the US led a coalition force into Iraq.  

An animation created in 2003, in the months leading up to the coalition's invasion, tells the story of that strike. By a stroke of chance, it was put online just days after the tragic death of Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut, on board the space shuttle Columbia.

The animation by Gil Ronen was viewed at the time by over 250,000 people, including numerous people within the US political leadership and defense establishment -- the same ones who decided to finish the job Israel had started 22 years earlier and rid the world of the danger that Saddam Hussein would ever use weapons of mass destruction against other countries. 

Israel bombed a site it claimed was a fledgling nuclear reactor in Syria several years ago.  The International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, recently corroborated Israel's claim, but condemned Israel for destroying the site instead of filing a complaint.

Click here to view the animation.