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The never-before-told inside story of how Israel stopped Syria from becoming a global nuclear nightmare―and its far-reaching implications On September 6, 2007, shortly after midnight, Israeli fighters advanced on Deir ez-Zour in Syria. Israel often flew into Syria as a warning to President Bashar al-Assad. But this time, there was no warning and no explanation. This was a c The never-before-told inside story of how Israel stopped Syria from becoming a global nuclear nightmare―and its far-reaching implications On September 6, 2007, shortly after midnight, Israeli fighters advanced on Deir ez-Zour in Syria. Israel often flew into Syria as a warning to President Bashar al-Assad. But this time, there was no warning and no explanation. This was a covert operation, with one goal: to destroy a nuclear reactor being built by North Korea under a tight veil of secrecy in the Syrian desert. Shadow Strike tells, for the first time, the story of the espionage, political courage, military might and psychological warfare behind Israel’s daring operation to stop one of the greatest known acts of nuclear proliferation. It also brings Israel’s powerful military and diplomatic alliance with the United States to life, revealing the debates President Bush had with Vice President Cheney and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well as the diplomatic and military planning that took place in the Oval Office, the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, and inside the IDF’s underground war room beneath Tel Aviv. These two countries remain united in a battle to prevent nuclear proliferation, to defeat Islamic terror, and to curtail Iran’s attempts to spread its hegemony throughout the Middle East. Shadow Strike explores how this operation continues to impact the world we live in today and if what happened in 2007 is a sign of what Israel will need to do one day to stop Iran's nuclear program. It also asks: had Israel not carried out this mission, what would the Middle East look like today?


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The never-before-told inside story of how Israel stopped Syria from becoming a global nuclear nightmare―and its far-reaching implications On September 6, 2007, shortly after midnight, Israeli fighters advanced on Deir ez-Zour in Syria. Israel often flew into Syria as a warning to President Bashar al-Assad. But this time, there was no warning and no explanation. This was a c The never-before-told inside story of how Israel stopped Syria from becoming a global nuclear nightmare―and its far-reaching implications On September 6, 2007, shortly after midnight, Israeli fighters advanced on Deir ez-Zour in Syria. Israel often flew into Syria as a warning to President Bashar al-Assad. But this time, there was no warning and no explanation. This was a covert operation, with one goal: to destroy a nuclear reactor being built by North Korea under a tight veil of secrecy in the Syrian desert. Shadow Strike tells, for the first time, the story of the espionage, political courage, military might and psychological warfare behind Israel’s daring operation to stop one of the greatest known acts of nuclear proliferation. It also brings Israel’s powerful military and diplomatic alliance with the United States to life, revealing the debates President Bush had with Vice President Cheney and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well as the diplomatic and military planning that took place in the Oval Office, the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, and inside the IDF’s underground war room beneath Tel Aviv. These two countries remain united in a battle to prevent nuclear proliferation, to defeat Islamic terror, and to curtail Iran’s attempts to spread its hegemony throughout the Middle East. Shadow Strike explores how this operation continues to impact the world we live in today and if what happened in 2007 is a sign of what Israel will need to do one day to stop Iran's nuclear program. It also asks: had Israel not carried out this mission, what would the Middle East look like today?

30 review for Shadow Strike: Inside Israel's Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    The author of this book is the editor and chief of The Jerusalem Post. A very factual and informative book. Thank you to Jewish Book Council for sending me this book as a gift.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eric_W

    A common definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results each time. That is a good definition of Israeli-Arab relations. Katz, enamored of the Israeli armed forces, writes hagiographically about the Israeli strike on the Syrian nuclear plant in 2007. Justification for this act of war was the assumption that a nuclear power plant -- Israel has several in addition to nuclear weapons -- could only be used to create the material for nuclear weapons, the A common definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results each time. That is a good definition of Israeli-Arab relations. Katz, enamored of the Israeli armed forces, writes hagiographically about the Israeli strike on the Syrian nuclear plant in 2007. Justification for this act of war was the assumption that a nuclear power plant -- Israel has several in addition to nuclear weapons -- could only be used to create the material for nuclear weapons, the presence of which Israel assumed could only be an existential threat to their country. ** There is an assumption that some countries act responsibly when it comes to nuclear weapons and others are not. Israel, while never admitting publicly it has nuclear weapons, clearly does, yet cannot seem to understand why that knowledge would not encourage hostile neighbors to want the same. Another assumption is that democracies will always act more sensibly than authoritarian governments. Recent events in the United States reveal just how fragile that assumption is. It's an assumption Plato warned about a millennia ago when he foresaw the seeds of its own destruction built into democratic governments. Israel has determined (at least the more recent governments) that countries in the Middle East will not (except for itself) be permitted to have nuclear weapons nor nuclear power plants that might be used to create the seeds of a nuclear weapons program. They see it as an existential threat. Then again, they see almost everything they don't like as an existential threat. From his extensive interviews with the decision-makers, advisers and planners — American and Israeli — Katz, the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, has written a gripping story of the Sept. 6, 2007 destruction of a secret, nearly completed al-Kabar nuclear reactor in Syria. knowledge of which was confirmed only in March of 2018. The Syrian strike at al-Kabar was not the first time the Israelis felt compelled to act. On June 7, 1981, the IAF destroyed a nuclear reactor in Osirak, Iraq, which was, at the time, a nation ruled by Saddam Hussein, another dictator willing to use chemical weapons. A fascinating portion of the book is devoted to the discussions within the Bush administration on the proper response to the intelligence that had been shared by Israel about the construction of a reactor in Syria. It was the hawks (Cheney et al) v diplomats (Rice eta al.) each with valid concerns and suspecting different outcomes. What was the possibility of a wider war? What would be the reaction of the Russians? Would this help or hurt the Iranians? Was the intelligence legitimate. It was an example of how government should work, but often doesn't. Cheney, ever the hawk and advocate of preemptive strikes, whatever the issue, was alone in thinking the U.S. should bomb the site. Everyone else in the Cabinet thought otherwise. The Iraq war, begun on faulty intelligence, was not going well and the feeling was that each administration gets just one war; trying to conduct two would lead to disaster. A more nuanced role proposed by a few was that the facility should be destroyed, but better that Israel should do the bombing. It would reinforce the view that Israel had rebounded from the Lebanese debacle and help issue a warning that Israel could handle its own affairs and protection and was not the minor stepchild of the U.S. The author claims at the end of the book that it was less about the strike than decision-making. That's certainly true. But what a messy process, indeed, influenced less by reality than perceptions, ideology, religion, and politics. **It was just learned that Syria fired a missile that landed perilously close to an Israeli nuclear plant in April 2021. Israeli responded with a retaliatory strike. Agence France has reported that Israel is suspected to have between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons. [https://www.france24.com/en/middle-ea...]

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chris Miller

    A very clear explanation of the movements, espionage, tactics, agreements, and history that led to the destruction of the Syrian nuclear reactor that was under construction with North Korean assistance. While the attack on the Iraqi site in the 1980s is much better known, the follow-up to this attack was designed to be, and was, much more muted. Mr. Katz has done an excellent job of researching, locating, interviewing and explaining the actions of numerous people involved. It reads like a novel A very clear explanation of the movements, espionage, tactics, agreements, and history that led to the destruction of the Syrian nuclear reactor that was under construction with North Korean assistance. While the attack on the Iraqi site in the 1980s is much better known, the follow-up to this attack was designed to be, and was, much more muted. Mr. Katz has done an excellent job of researching, locating, interviewing and explaining the actions of numerous people involved. It reads like a novel and shows some people that many seem to detest in a much better light. It is absolute must reading for those interested in the US government, foreign affairs, Middle East intrigue, war, and peace.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ron Nurmi

    An "inside" look at the Israelis decision in 2007 to destroy a Syrian nuclear facility at Deir ez-Zor. How they came to understand the Syrians and North Koreans were building this facility and what to do. They did inform the U.S. and President George W. Bush made the decision not to have the U.S. destroy it. Now the Israelis felt they had no option other than to do it themselves which they did September 6, 2007. Katz looks at both Israeli and U.S. decision making and the aftermath of the destruct An "inside" look at the Israelis decision in 2007 to destroy a Syrian nuclear facility at Deir ez-Zor. How they came to understand the Syrians and North Koreans were building this facility and what to do. They did inform the U.S. and President George W. Bush made the decision not to have the U.S. destroy it. Now the Israelis felt they had no option other than to do it themselves which they did September 6, 2007. Katz looks at both Israeli and U.S. decision making and the aftermath of the destruction. An excellent book if you are interested in decision making under pressure, the Middle East situation, how the U.S. and Israel can work together, and diplomacy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Harold

    The neutralization of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani comes as no surprise for readers of Shadow Strike: Inside Israel’s Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power (Yaacov Katz, St. Martin’s Press, 2019). Soleimani’s fate mirrors that of Israel’s decade-ago targeted assassination of Hezbollah’s chief of operations, Imad Mughniyeh. He was, according to Katz, “Iran’s primary terror emissary in the Middle East.” A joint CIA-Mossad intelligence-sharing operation eliminated him. And now The neutralization of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani comes as no surprise for readers of Shadow Strike: Inside Israel’s Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power (Yaacov Katz, St. Martin’s Press, 2019). Soleimani’s fate mirrors that of Israel’s decade-ago targeted assassination of Hezbollah’s chief of operations, Imad Mughniyeh. He was, according to Katz, “Iran’s primary terror emissary in the Middle East.” A joint CIA-Mossad intelligence-sharing operation eliminated him. And now unconfirmed reports are emerging the two agencies cooperated in targeting Soleimani. There are some important lessons to about the balance of terror on the international scene in the fast-read engrossing book. Katz effectively uses stories and conversations to highlight his lessons. Katz uncovers the details of why and how Mughniyeh was killed. First, there is the lesson of patience. It took patience, persistence and verifiable espionage to get the target at the right time in the right location to get the point across. Eventually, a bomb was planted in the trunk of his car on the streets of Syria’s capital by Israel’s super-secret Kidon unit. Mughniyeh was Iran’s liaison to the Syrians, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. He met with Soleimani who was responsible then for Iran’s “overseas activities.” Israel’s message was clear to its enemies. “No one and nothing (the Syrian reactor) was (sic) out of reach. If the Mossad could get its hands on Mughniyeh in the heart of Damascus, they could get their hands on anyone.” Soleimani grew to be a nuclear actor. Soleimani boasted in 2008 to U S General Petraeus: “You must know that I, Qassem Soleimani, am in charge of the Iranian policies concerning Iraq, Gaza, and Afghanistan.” He shipped arms, IEDs, and bombs from Iran to kill allied troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Spy agencies and national leaders from Canada to Japan, across Europe and the Middle East, even the UN, labeled Soleimani a terrorist and placed sanctions against him. Another lesson learned has to do with national self-interest. Nothing tops it. Israel has a long reach and willingness to do almost anything to survive its hostile neighbors. Self-interests override friendships and redefine international rules. The strike on the nuclear reactor was a time-consuming espionage enterprise. Verifications of information were necessary as new facts emerged. How might the capricious leader of North Korea react after his substantial investment explodes and to the possible death of his nationals helping build the reactor? What about Turkey and Erdogan’s desire to lead the Islamic world? Might the neutralization of Soleimani push Iran into a shooting war that media predicted can trigger World War III? Now it seems unlikely Russia and China are going to war to avenge Soleimani just as we learn from Shadow Strike that the Bush administration made it abundantly clear to the North Koreans Israel’s airstrike was in its existential self-interest. After the strike on the reactor, “interactions” between North Korea and Syria were “no longer at the level that it had been before the Israeli airstrike.” Another lesson the West poo-poos but dominates the Middle East is that the future depends on the memory keepers. The influence of history directs current events. For instance, Jews in Israel no longer view themselves in victim mode. The Holocaust is past but remembered. Israel is the means “Not to forget. To rely only on ourselves.” “What most people don’t know is that Israel is the only country in the world to have attacked and destroyed two nuclear reactors in two different countries…(and) Israel will always use military force to prevent its enemies from obtaining nuclear weapons,” Katz reminds. Allies have to respect each other’s self-interests. Bush had reasons not to attack the Syrian nuclear reactor. Israel allegedly wanted to neutralize the Iranian general three years earlier according to emerging news reports but the Obama administration thwarted Israel’s plans. With Soleimani posing no existential threat to Israel her leaders deferred to President Obama’s purported self-interests. Patience won out in this case when the Trump administration took action. It leaves Israel publicly blameless thus avoiding an all-out shooting confrontation with Iran. ABC.net News labels Soleimani’s neutralization as “a watershed moment in the Middle East conflict.” Soleimani was more a traditional warlord than a modern general. Let’s not aggrandize his memory but learn the lessons of dealing with a terrorist state. Dr. Harold Goldmeier writes about business, social and political issues, public speaker, and Manager of an investment firm. [email protected]

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Very nice thriller but.... I really liked the threads of political and espionage intrigue coming together in this book. I’m happy I bought it. But I wished for more photos and more details of the air raid as I bought this book for those details too. Hence 4 stars, not 5.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andy Zach

    Yaakov Katz delivers a gripping, readable account of Israel's strike on the nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007. He weaves interesting accounts of the many relevant military and political leaders in Israel and the US that were involved: Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister, George W. Bush, Condeleeza Rice and dozens of others. While he retained my attention through all the background history of Israel, Syria, and the US, and the personal lives of the main characters, when he delved into Israeli politics, Yaakov Katz delivers a gripping, readable account of Israel's strike on the nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007. He weaves interesting accounts of the many relevant military and political leaders in Israel and the US that were involved: Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister, George W. Bush, Condeleeza Rice and dozens of others. While he retained my attention through all the background history of Israel, Syria, and the US, and the personal lives of the main characters, when he delved into Israeli politics, my eyes glazed over and I skimmed over those parts. All I can say is that Israeli politics are quite as involved and complex as US politics, but the issues are completely different. Those slow sections are why this book has three stars rather than four.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Kloda

    Yaakov Katz is a gifted writer. The author writes about Israel's Secret Mission to eliminate Syria's Nuclear reactor in his book "Shadow Strike". I was able to follow through at all times reading" Shadow War". The very tough decisions that Israel's leaders have to make were very effectively depicted. Israel lives in a very dangerous neighborhood. They always have to be at least one step ahead! Again, as a reader, I really understood the horrible decisions Israel has to make. I highly recommend Yaakov Katz is a gifted writer. The author writes about Israel's Secret Mission to eliminate Syria's Nuclear reactor in his book "Shadow Strike". I was able to follow through at all times reading" Shadow War". The very tough decisions that Israel's leaders have to make were very effectively depicted. Israel lives in a very dangerous neighborhood. They always have to be at least one step ahead! Again, as a reader, I really understood the horrible decisions Israel has to make. I highly recommend reading Yaakov Katz's book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Danny McSpadden

    If you want to know The truth about what was going on at the highest levels of both US and Israeli government officials dealing with what I believe could have determined the chances of nuclear arms races, and possibly somewhere down the road total global annihilation in a nuclear holocaust this is the best one I have read yet. Helped me to understand that nothing is ever as simple as it appears at that level.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Patsel

    Important and informative This book is enormously important as it informs of not only the actual bombing and elimination of a nuclear reactor in a very hostile and unstable Syria, but also the political decisions made and avoided by so called leaders leading up to and beyond the event. As a US citizen I’m constantly disappointed by our total lack of leading the world. We’ve become nothing more than a nation of bureaucrats, hand wringers and worry warts.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    I found the details involved in the decision for Israel to take definitive action against a secret nuclear facility being built in Syria fascinating. And this book explains lots of those details. So many aspects of world politics led to the final decision. Katz does a great job giving the background of all the main decision-makers involved, which brings the story to life in a deeper way.

  12. 5 out of 5

    James A. Matas

    Certainly was exciting as to what would happen after the nuclear reactor destruction. Gave us insight as to the character of Syrian leadership. Assad should not have become Prime Minister, maybe not even an eye doctor Considering how uncaring and untruthful he showed he is. Next book ,the destruction of Iran nuclear facilities in a multi target Israeli operation.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Gave this book 5 stars would have gave it 10 out of 10 excellent read a must read book for anyone interested in Israel and the middle east Yaakov Katz describes passages in this book that are page turners

  14. 5 out of 5

    Clay Davis

    So much of this book seemed like the past is prologue.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Informative and well-written/easy to read book on a fascinating and remarkable military action. Had the action not been done, the world may be very different today. Highly recommend reading it!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Zeb Kantrowitz

    In 1987 the Israeli Air Force (AIF) had attacked a nuclear reactor that Sadaam Hussein was building in Iraq. This was the only Iraqi try at building an A-Bomb. Though there was consternation against Israel at the UN, everyone agreed (but didn't publicize) that this was a good idea, because of Hussein's instability. In 2007, the Israeli's presented pictures of a construction of a building on the upper Euphrates in North East Syria. Syria under Baath Party had fought three wars with Israel, having In 1987 the Israeli Air Force (AIF) had attacked a nuclear reactor that Sadaam Hussein was building in Iraq. This was the only Iraqi try at building an A-Bomb. Though there was consternation against Israel at the UN, everyone agreed (but didn't publicize) that this was a good idea, because of Hussein's instability. In 2007, the Israeli's presented pictures of a construction of a building on the upper Euphrates in North East Syria. Syria under Baath Party had fought three wars with Israel, having lost the Golan Heights in 1967. No one thought that the armed forces under Hafez al-Asad (Bashir's father) thought they could defeat the Israeli's on their own. The Israeli's suspected that they were being helped by North Korea to built an atomic bomb. After having shown to the George W Bush Administration, pictures of the building site, where there were North Korean workers, they told the US they would have to destroy the facility. The only question was how they were going to destroy it. That's what this book is about. The planning of the destruction of the building while being able to deny having been involved is what is explained in this book. It's a great story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    A stunning inside look at Israel's quest to destroy Syria's fledgling nuclear reactor, which Israel feared Syria would use to threaten its western neighbor. (Israel.) A thriller and page-turner almost from start to finish. My one issue with the book is it lacks any maps. A regional map of the Middle East, showing Israel, Syria and its neighbors would have been a big help, along with a detailed map of Syria. The author mentions several Syrian towns, and most readers would only recognize Damascus, A stunning inside look at Israel's quest to destroy Syria's fledgling nuclear reactor, which Israel feared Syria would use to threaten its western neighbor. (Israel.) A thriller and page-turner almost from start to finish. My one issue with the book is it lacks any maps. A regional map of the Middle East, showing Israel, Syria and its neighbors would have been a big help, along with a detailed map of Syria. The author mentions several Syrian towns, and most readers would only recognize Damascus, the capital. The interplay between Israel's spy network, its armed forces and its political leadership is fascinating. I also enjoyed the diplomacy Israel employed to explain its plan to its close friends in the United States and Britain. How did Israel keep a secret after tipping off so many people! Truly a great read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Linnaea

    I first read about the strike on Deir ez-Zour in Ronen Bergman's Rise and Kill First, saw this book at the library and went "wow, a more detailed account of the event." I have mixed views on the book, the introduction was a little to Fox Newish for me but the meat of the book was very interesting. Katz writes about the Israeli government and intelligence organizations from the discovery, the deciding of options and the follow through of the attack. I first read about the strike on Deir ez-Zour in Ronen Bergman's Rise and Kill First, saw this book at the library and went "wow, a more detailed account of the event." I have mixed views on the book, the introduction was a little to Fox Newish for me but the meat of the book was very interesting. Katz writes about the Israeli government and intelligence organizations from the discovery, the deciding of options and the follow through of the attack.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nolan Martin

    An excellent account of Israel's daring raid on a Syrian reactor...and the many agonizing decisions made before and following the strike. As the reactor sat on land conquered by ISIS a few years after the strike, the world most certainly owes a huge debt to Israel. Definitely makes the case for not allowing rogue, unstable countries to acquire nukes and makes the Obama administration's deal with Iran look even more idiotic. An excellent account of Israel's daring raid on a Syrian reactor...and the many agonizing decisions made before and following the strike. As the reactor sat on land conquered by ISIS a few years after the strike, the world most certainly owes a huge debt to Israel. Definitely makes the case for not allowing rogue, unstable countries to acquire nukes and makes the Obama administration's deal with Iran look even more idiotic.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wayne Ikola

    Despite tis melodramatic title, this book is a scholarly history of the events leading up to the bombing of Syria's al-Kibar nuclear reactor by the Israelis in 2007, and the subsequent reactions to the bombing around the world. It seems to me to accurately reflect the politics of the time, particularly as concerns the United States. It is one of the best translations from Hebrew into English I have read. Despite tis melodramatic title, this book is a scholarly history of the events leading up to the bombing of Syria's al-Kibar nuclear reactor by the Israelis in 2007, and the subsequent reactions to the bombing around the world. It seems to me to accurately reflect the politics of the time, particularly as concerns the United States. It is one of the best translations from Hebrew into English I have read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Great book. A wonderful book that tells the little known story of Ehud Olmert's decision to strike at Syria's Nuclear Reactor. Great book. A wonderful book that tells the little known story of Ehud Olmert's decision to strike at Syria's Nuclear Reactor.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adam Hummel

    Couldn't put it down! Great narrative and to the point. Loved it. Couldn't put it down! Great narrative and to the point. Loved it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Excellent history of an event with effects that still reverberate today.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Hazout

    Interesting and informative. However I found that the constant back and forth in the timeline got in the way of the story telling.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. One of the most chilling aspects of this attack is that this area was subsequently captured and controlled by ISIS. The idea of ISIS having access to vast amounts of material for dirty bombs is a birthplace for nightmares.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ross Sidor

    Detailed account of the 2007 Israeli air strike that destroyed Syria's clandestine nuclear weapons program, as well as the diplomatic events and intelligence gathering leading up to the mission. The author puts the incident in the broader context of US-Israeli relations, Middle East politics, and the Iran Proxy War. One startling takeaway from the book for me is that the nuclear reactor was located in a region of Syria that was later seized by ISIS. Had it not been destroyed, that reactor could Detailed account of the 2007 Israeli air strike that destroyed Syria's clandestine nuclear weapons program, as well as the diplomatic events and intelligence gathering leading up to the mission. The author puts the incident in the broader context of US-Israeli relations, Middle East politics, and the Iran Proxy War. One startling takeaway from the book for me is that the nuclear reactor was located in a region of Syria that was later seized by ISIS. Had it not been destroyed, that reactor could have ended up in the hands of ISIS.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Vojtech

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jay

  29. 5 out of 5

    Charles V Williams

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laurel Gans

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