Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Israeli hit teams have a history of eliminating weapons scientists.


During his years as Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion was haunted by a recurring nightmare. In it, the Holocaust’s survivors had taken refuge in Israel only to become the targets of another Holocaust. The nightmare seemed to be coming true in July 1962, when Egypt’s then-president Gamal Abdel Nasser announced four successful tests of missiles capable of striking anywhere “south of Beirut”—that is, anywhere in Israel.

Israeli officials panicked. The Mossad had never guessed that Nasser was developing the means to destroy “the Zionist entity,” as he had repeatedly promised. Israel’s military intelligence quickly learned that Egypt had built a secret facility in the desert, known as Factory 333 and staffed by German scientists, builders of the V1 and V2 rockets that had devastated London. Even the project’s security chief was a veteran of Hitler’s SS. The Egyptians’ plan was to build some 900 missiles, all of them presumably to be aimed at Israel. [...]

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