After almost a decade-long silence, Israel has acknowledged that its air force was responsible for blowing up the Syrian nuclear reactor called Al Kibar in the area of Deir Ezzor in September 2007.

In March 2007, a secret Mossad – Israeli Intelligence Agency — raid on the home of the head of Syria’s Atomic Energy Commission, Ibrahim Othman, in Vienna, revealed information about a Syrian nuclear reactor in northeast Syria on the Euphrates River.

The months that followed saw several meetings between the Bush administration – brought into the loop by Israel after they received evidence on the existence of the nuclear reactor — and the Israeli government.  

Israel authorized a secret mission to destroy the alleged nuclear site in September 2007, without the help of U.S., who decided to sit this one out. The Bush memoirs of 2010 state that the U.S. was not convinced about the reactor's capability to produce nuclear weapons and therefore wanted to address the issue diplomatically.

Israel justified the strike as an application of the "Begin Doctrine," named for Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, which calls on the Jewish state to destroy any enemy country’s nuclear capabilities. The doctrine was established after Israel ordered the bombing of Iraq’s nascent nuclear reactor in 1981. Israel claimed responsibility for the attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor almost immediately.

“The message of the attack on the reactor in 2007 is that Israel will not accept the construction of a capability that threatens the existence of the State of Israel. That was the message in ’81. That was the message in 2007. And that is the message to our enemies for the future,” Times of Israel quoted IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot as saying in a statement regarding the 2007 bombing. 

Although Israel remained silent for a decade, news relating to the attack was reported by various  publications. A detailed piece in New Yorker in 2012 on the attack by the Israeli military forces on the nuclear reactor alleged that Israel and the United States had become increasingly worried by Syria’s nuclear ambitions.

Evidence recovered by Israeli intelligence apparently showed a top-secret nuclear reactor. A series of photographs taken by Mossad operatives pointed at the presence of North Korean workers at the site.

Former U.S. president George Bush also alluded to the attack in his 2010 memoir saying, the success of the Israeli strike “made up for the confidence I had lost in the Israelis during the [2006] Lebanon war.”

However, for years the Israelis only referred to the incident as obliquely as possible with no official confirmation until now.

Following Wednesday's acknowledgement, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the raid should serve as a message for "everyone in the Middle East."

Israel airstrike Palestinians look at a militant target that was hit in an Israeli airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip December 9, 2017. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images