Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor
Israel's Dimona nuclear reactorFlash 90

The missile attack took Israel by surprise. Six of the powerful Paveh missiles fired by Iran were intercepted and destroyed by Israel’s sophisticated air defense system, but two of rockets reached their targets with deadly accuracy. The missile which landed in the heart of Tel Aviv caused buildings to collapse and killed many Israelis who didn't make it to the bomb shelter. Hundreds more were seriously wounded. The missile which landed in Haifa did the same.

Perhaps the word surprise isn’t the proper description of the stunned Israeli nation. After all, Israel was very aware of the threat and maintained its advanced warning system at near-to-the-top level, with air-force jets constantly in the air, and laser and missile defense installations on high alert.

Obviously something went wrong. Now however, there was no time to check where and how the failure had occurred. The survival of the small, enemy-surrounded country was at stake. An immediate response was needed. To make matters worse, barrages of smaller missiles from Gaza, Lebanon, and Jordan had begun falling over the beleaguered country whose people were all in bomb shelters.

The five members of the Israeli war cabinet had assembled in the special underground bunker situated on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The atmosphere in the large war room was tense. All eyes turned to the bearded Prime Minister when he strode into the room and sat at the head of the long conference table.

“I just spoke with the President of the United States,” he began with a grave expression. His brow wrinkles bulged. Like small radar receptors, his eyes scanned each face in the room.

“The President requests that we postpone our response until he speaks with the Iranians,” he reported.

“Wait for what?” Ari, the Minister of Defense retorted. “Wait for more missiles to fall and kill Jews?”

The Prime Minister nodded in thought. The Minister of Defense was the leader of the Religious Zionist Coalition Party, second largest faction in the government. Indeed, after the Simchat Torah attack by Hamas on the south of the country just two years before, the shaken and traumatized country had taken a sharp turn to the right. The longtime Prime Minister himself had experienced a profound bout of self-searching, manifested by his beard and the kippah on his head.

“We have to strike back with everything we have!” the Minister of Defense asserted.

“Are you suggesting we drop an atom bomb on Teheran?” Ehud, the opposition leader asked in a tone of bewilderment. “I suggest we remain rational and give the President of the United States time to stop Iran.”

“The United States allowed Iran to become a nuclear power,” Rabbi Cohen, the leader of the joint Haredi parties reminded him. “The surest way to insure that more Jews won’t be killed is precisely by dropping an atom bomb on Teheran.”

“And what about all of the innocent civilians who will be killed – as well as the Jews who still live in the city?” a former IDF Chief of Staff asked. He was nicknamed “Pita” for his onetime great popularity amongst Israeli soldiers. As the co-leader of the opposition’s largest party, he was sure to vote like his leftwing partner on the crucial decision.

Sure enough, his political comrade backed the statement of reservation. “I agree,” he said.

“According to the Halakha,” Rabbi Cohen responded, “the question of innocent civilians is irrelevant, along with the small number of Jews in Teheran, when we are talking about the survival of the Jewish Nation in Israel.”

“This is a military decision,” the former Chief-of-Staff insisted, “not a matter of pipul in a yeshiva whose students refuse to serve in the army.”

The Minister of Defense stood up and shouted, “I object! Religious Zionist students make up over half of the soldiers in our best combat units!”

The Prime Minister banged his fist on the table. “This isn’t the time to reopen old wounds” he declared. “We need to reach a decision now.”

The vote on the matter seemed clear. The Minister of Defense and the Haredi representative of the war cabinet wanted the strongest response possible. The two opposition leaders wanted to wait. The vote of the Prime Minister would determine Israel’s response.

“I suggest we begin by taking out all of Iran’s missile launchers,” Pita recommended.

“That’s a formula for national suicide,” the Defense Minister retorted. “Most of them are underground sites scattered all over the desert. By the time we reach them all we could suffer a million casualties. We have to decapitate the head of the snake. By destroying Teheran we cripple Iran on the spot.”

“If we drop a nuclear bomb on Teheran, who can insure that Russia or China won’t drop a nuclear bomb on us?” the ever-undermining Ehud responded.

“Heaven forbid,” Rabbi Cohen whispered softly.

The Prime Minister took a deep breath. Throughout his long political career he had championed compromise, endeavoring with all of his wisdom and political talent to keep the ship of the Jewish Nation afloat in the relentless waves of stormy seas threatening to capsize the State of Israel. After October 7th, he and a great number of Israelis realized that the country’s military prowess could not be relied upon to defend the beleaguered country from its murderous and untiring enemies.

In addition, when conflicts reached the crucial hour, the promises of allies like America, England, and France turned out to be empty slogans. How often the Prime Minister had learned - Esav hated Yaacov – that was an undeniable fact. Neither Israel’s vaunted military stature, nor the reliance on its dissembling and untrustworthy allies could save the tiny country from the blood-thirsty wolves circling its borders. The Prime Minister had come to realize that the only savior the Jewish People could count on was God.

But could they really rely upon Him, he wondered, now that he had to make the most important decision of his life? Rabbi Cohen believed that Hashem would save them. The Minister of Defense believed that the Rock of Israel would stand by their side. Both of the firm believers were staring at him with looks of granite-like encouragement in their eyes.

Yes, he had made a commitment to become religious and he observed the commandments of the Torah with sincerity. But he was a newcomer and the depth of his belief was nowhere as certain as theirs. Had Hashem really caused Haman's downfall? Was it really Hashem who had led the Maccabees to their victory? Could he be certain that Hashem would prevent Russia from responding with a nuclear attack on Israel, God forbid. And if they did respond, would Hashem cause Russia’s missiles and bomber jets to explode in midair?

The opposition leaders tensely awaited his decision.

“I vote to bomb Teheran immediately with all of our power,” the Defense Minister said.

“I second the motion,” Rabbi Cohen agreed.

“I oppose,” the opposition leader countered.

“I oppose such insanity as well,” Pita echoed.

All eyes fixed on the Prime Minister. “We have no other choice,” he said.

The missiles left Israel’s undersea submarines smoothly. Within minutes the great city of Teheran was totally destroyed. When the media reported the news, a cry of national joy rang out across the Jewish State. People burst out in song like they had some three-thousand years before at the crossing of the Red Sea.

Russia and China condemned the cataclysmic attack but a military response never came. When the United Nations censored Israel, the United States did not use its veto. “We don’t support the use of nuclear weapons,” the American ambassador told the press, “but Israel certainly has the right to exist.”

Not long after the enormous extent of the destruction was reported, the Prime Minister of Israel faced a wall of cameras at a noisy and jammed-packed press conference. Standing erect and confident, he addressed the jubilant Jewish Nation. “Baruch Hashem,” he said with a broad smile of relief. “Baruch Hashem, Baruch Hashem, Baruch Hashem.”

When he concluded his faith-filled speech, a reporter’s voice shouted out, “What if the International Court of Hague also condemns Israel?”

Again the Prime Minister smiled. “Baruch Hashem,” he repeated. “We have missiles that can reach the Hague as well.”