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Israeli Minister of Defence proposed using atomic bomb in 1973 war

Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper has published leaked information about Israeli discussions regarding the potential regional reaction if Israel were to attack Damascus and Cairo with an atomic bomb on the eve of the October 1973 war.


According to the newspaper, Arnon Azaryahu, the advisor of Israeli Minister Yisrael Galili, said during documented testimony that the nuclear option had been proposed to Israel's Prime Minister at the time, Golda Meir.

Israeli historian and Professor Avner Cohen describes Azaryahu's testimony in his book, explaining how the option was proposed when Israel's Chief of Staff David Elazar had reported that the field conditions on different fronts were bad.

According to Azaryahu's testimony, the Minister of Defence at the time, Moshe Dayan, waited for Elazar to leave the room and then casually made his proposal, asking for Shalheveth Freier, who ran Israel's nuclear research and development programme, to demonstrate what would happen if an atomic bomb were to be used against Egypt and Syria, in light of the deteriorating situation on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts.

The newspaper reports that Dayan asked Meir to authorize Freier to carry out the "necessary preparations for such a display, should it be needed, in order to shorten the timeframe from hours to minutes," but the proposal was rejected.

The possibility of Israel's use of an atomic option during the 1973 war was first published almost two weeks ago, when the son of former Government Minister Haim Bar-Lev published excerpts from his father's diaries admitting that Meir had informed him of Dayan's proposal but the military censorship refused to publish the discussions and used the term "non-conventional weapons" instead.

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