Newly declassified documents reveal that Israel nearly made use of its nuclear weapons during the fateful opening days of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Israel’s Yediot Ahronot reported on Thursday.
On the second day of the war, as Syrian and Egyptian forces were overcoming the sparse and surprised Israeli defenders, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan suggested the use of nuclear weapons in a secretive meeting with Prime Minister Golda Meir.
Dayan did not necessarily intend to attack the Arabs with nuclear warheads, but rather wanted to put on a “display of power.” It is speculated that the intention was to influence either one or all of the following:
- the Americans, who until that point had done nothing concrete to stop the Arab onslaught against Israel;
- the Russians, who were backing the Arab offensive; or
- the Arabs themselves, who believed they were about to finally fulfill the dream of “pushing the Jews into the sea.”
After brief consideration, Meir rejected the proposal, and Israel went on the win the war by conventional means.