Operation Orchard was an Israeli
airstrike on a target in the Deir ez-Zor region
of Syria carried out just after midnight on September 6, 2007.
According to news reports, the raid was carried out by the Israeli
Air Force's 69th Squadron of F-15Is,
F-16s, and an ELINT aircraft; a total of as many as eight aircraft.
The fighters were equipped with AGM-65
Maverick missiles, 500lb bombs, and external fuel tanks.
One report indicated that a team of IAF Shaldag commandos arrived at
the site the day before so that they could highlight the target with
Israeli F-15I from
the 69th Squadron.
ABC News reported that the Mossad "managed to either co-opt one of
the facility's workers or to insert a spy posing as an employee" at
the suspected Syrian nuclear site, and through this was able to get
pictures of the target from on the ground.
According to The Sunday Times, members of Israel's Sayeret
Matkal covertly raided the suspected Syrian nuclear facility before
the September 6 airstrike and brought nuclear material back to
Israel. Once the material was tested and confirmed to have come from
North Korea, the US gave Israel approval for an attack.
However, another report indicated that Israel planned to attack the
site as early as July 14, but some US officials, including Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice, preferred a public condemnation of Syria,
thereby delaying the military strike until Israel feared the
information would leak to the press.
The Times also reports that the mission
was "personally directed" by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
According to Aviation Week and Space Technology, US industry and
military sources speculated that the Israelis may have used
technology similar to the U.S.' Suter airborne network attack system
to allow their planes to pass undetected by radar into Syria.
would make it possible to feed enemy radar emitters with false
targets, and even directly manipulate enemy sensors.
Syria is reported to have two new
state-of-the art Russian radar systems, suspected to be the Tor-M1
ez-Zor region, Syria
Israeli Air Force
1 ELINT aircraft
Total: As many as 8 aircraft
Unknown numbers of radar and
Anti-aircraft artillery of the Syrian Air
CNN first reported that the airstrike targeted weapons "destined for
Hezbollah militants" and that the strike "left a big hole in the
September 13 The Washington Post reported that U.S. and Israeli
intelligence gathered information on a nuclear facility constructed
in Syria with North Korean aid, and that the target was a "facility
capable of making unconventional weapons".
According to The Sunday Times, the
target was a cache of nuclear materials from North Korea.
Korean ship had docked in Syria just a few days earlier,
and after the strike North Korea publicly condemned the raid; North
Korea rarely comments on international events.
The ship was later identified as the Al Hamed, a 1,700-tonne cargo
ship that was previously owned by a North Korean business.
The ship registered itself as South
Korean when it travelled through the Suez canal and docked at the
Syrian port Tartous on July 28. It returned on September 3, when it
was said to have unloaded cement. Records do not indicate where the
vessel is as of September 17.
This reporting was challenged on September 24 by The Raw Story,
which said that US intelligence officials told them that the actual
target were North Korean No-Dong missiles. According to the report,
the missiles were an "older generation" that Syria was attempting to
Syrian Vice-President Faruq Al Shara announced on September
30 that the Israeli target was The Arab Center for the Studies of
Arid zones and Dry lands, but the center itself immediately denied
following day Syrian President Bashar al-Assad described the
bombing target as an "incomplete and empty military complex that was
still under construction".
He did not provide any further details
about the nature of the structure or its purpose.
On September 28 the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda reported that
Iranian general Ali Reza Asgari, who disappeared in February,
was the source for the airstrike.
On 14 October The New York Times cited US and Israeli military
intelligence sources saying that the target had been a nuclear
reactor under construction by North Korean technicians, with a
number of the technicians having been killed in the strike.
Syria first responded by saying that its anti-aircraft weapons had
fired at Israeli planes, which bombed empty areas in the desert,
or later, unused military buildings.
On September 7-8 Turkish media reported finding Israeli fuel tanks
in Hatay and Gaziantep Province, and the Turkish Foreign Minister
lodged a formal protest with the Israeli envoy.
Israel did not comment on the incident,
although Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did say that,
"The security services and Israeli
defense forces are demonstrating unusual courage. We naturally
cannot always show the public our cards."
Israeli papers were banned from doing
their own reporting on the airstrike.
On September 16 the head of Aman, Amos Yadlin, told a
parliamentary committee that Israel regained its "deterrent
Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked if North Korea was
helping Syria in the nuclear realm, but replied only that,
"we are watching the North Koreans
very carefully. We watch the Syrians very carefully."
The first public acknowledgment by an
Israeli official came on September 19 when opposition leader
Benjamin Netanyahu said that he had backed the operation and
congratulated Prime Minister Olmert.
Netanyahu advisor Uzi Arad later told Newsweek,
"I do know what happened, and when
it comes out it will stun everyone."
On September 17 Prime Minister Olmert
announced that he was ready to make peace with Syria,
conditions and without ultimatums".
According to a poll done by the Dahaf Research Institute, Olmert's
approval rating rose from 25% to 35% after the airstrike.
On October 2, 2007 the IDF confirmed the attack took place,
following a request by Haaretz to lift censorship; however, the IDF
continued to censor details of the actual strike force and its
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz opined "we can safely say that behind
the successful blackout campaign lies an enormous failure" namely
the failure to provoke Assad into a military response:
"whoever expected him to respond to
the operation in a military operation was wrong. "
It is reported that the nearly one million customers of Yes,
Israel's only satellite television provider, have had poor reception
since September 6th, 2007.
Further, the provider has not been able
to troubleshoot the problem. The Israeli government alleges that the
origin of the poor reception is the activity of,
"the Dutch and
German ships of the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon."
explanation is given why the ships activity did not affect reception
prior to September 6th.
On October 10, 2007 The New York Times reported that the
Israelis had shared the Syrian strike dossier with Turkey. In turn
the Turks traveled to Damascus and confronted the Syrians with the
dossier alleging a nuclear program. The Syrian denied this with
vigor saying that the target was a storage depot for strategic
On October 25, 2007 The New York Times reported that two
commercial satellite photos taken before and after the raid showed
that a square building no longer exists at the suspected site.
Satellite images from
Aug. 10 and Oct. 24 by DigitalGlobe
Satellite imagery of a facility in Syria collected on August 10,
2007, left, and October 24, right.
On October 27, 2007 The New York Times reported that the
imaging company Geoeye released an image of the building from
September 16, 2003, and from this security analyst John Pike
estimated that construction began in 2001.
A "senior intelligence
official" also told the Times that the US has observed the site for
years by spy satellite.
A satellite photo
from Sept. 16, 2003, shows a large structure being built near a site
in Syria that was bombed last month by Israel.
Israeli raid a dry run for attack on
Iran?", The Observer, 2007-09-16.
Stephens, Bret. "Osirak
II?", The Wall Street Journal,
say Israel raid on Syria triggered by
arms fears", Reuters, 2007-09-12.
Mahnaimi, Uzi. "Israelis
‘blew apart Syrian nuclear cache’",
The Sunday Times, 2007-09-16.
FM slams Israel over fuel tanks",
The Jerusalem Post, 2007-09-10.
‘blew apart Syrian nuclear cache’",
The Sunday Times, 2007-09-16.
Raddatz, Martha. "EXCLUSIVE:
The Case for Israel's Strike on Syria",
ABC News, 2007-10-19.
Mahnaimi, Uzi. "Snatched:
Israeli commandos ‘nuclear’ raid",
The Sunday Times, 2007-09-23.
US stalled IAF raid in Syria fearing ME
destabilization", The Jerusalem
Fulghum, David A.. "Why
Syria's Air Defenses Failed to Detect
Israelis", Aviation Week & Space
Fulghum, David A.. "Israel
used electronic attack in air strike
against Syrian mystery target",
Aviation Week & Space Technology,
complains to U.N. about Israeli
airstrike", CNN, 2007-09-11.
Kessler, Glenn. "N.
Korea, Syria May Be at Work on Nuclear
Facility", The Washington Post,
Melman, Yossi. "Records
on N. Korean ship docked in Syria were
altered", Haaretz, 2007-09-17.
Kessler, Glenn. "Syria-N.
Korea Reports Won't Stop Talks", The
Washington Post, 2007-09-15.
Butcher, Tim. "N
Korean ship 'linked to Israel's strike
on Syria'", The Daily Telegraph,
Alexandrovna, Larisa. "Israeli
air strike did not hit nuclear facility,
intelligence officials say", The Raw
League center denies it was Israeli raid
target", Middle East Times,
sets conference conditions", BBC,
Defecting Iranian official gave info
before alleged Syrian foray", The
Jerusalem Post, 2007-09-28.
Sanger, David. "Israel
Struck Syrian Nuclear Project, Analysts
Say", The New York Times,
Asks Israel About Fuel Tanks", AP,
admits air strike on Syria", BBC.
complains to Israel over fuel tanks
found near border with Syria: reports",
Urquhart, Conal. "Speculation
flourishes over Israel's strike on Syria",
The Guardian, 2007-09-17.
Harel, Amos. "ANALYSIS:
Mummed media base IAF strike reports on
world press", Haaretz, 2007-09-16.
says deterrent ability recovered after
Syria strike", AFP, 2007-09-16.
heats up over what Israel hit in Syria",
says Israel carried out Syria air raid,
he backed it", AFP, 2007-09-19.
Ephron, Dan. "The
Whispers of War", Newsweek,
says he is ready to make peace with
Syria", The Jerusalem Post,
airstrike in northern Syria boosts
Olmert's popularity: Poll", The
Jerusalem Post, 2007-09-18.
Oren, Amir. "IDF
lifts censorship on air strike against
Syria target", Haaretz, 2007-10-02.
The consistency of error Haaretz
03/10/2007 The consistency of error By
UN ships disrupt Israeli satellite TV,
Breitbart.com Oct 10 05:37 AM US/Eastern
An Israeli Strike on Syria Kindles
Debate in the U.S. By MARK MAZZETTI
and HELENE COOPER Published: October 10,
Satellite Photos Show Cleansing of
Suspect Syrian Site By William J.
Broad Published: October 26, 2007
Broad, William, Mark
Another Photo of Site in Syria, Yet More
Questions", The New York Times,