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Israel can, so can India now: Modi

How strikes PM 'heard of' are different

By Charu Sudan Kasturi
  • Published 19.10.16

Oct. 18: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today compared the Indian "surgical strikes" with the covert operations of Israel.

"Earlier, we used to hear of Israel doing things like this," Modi told a rally at Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. "Now everyone knows our army can do it too."

The nature of Israel's covert operations suggests key differences with India's strikes, which the Indian government broke from the past to publicise and tom-tom and which Pakistan so far has denied ever occurred.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries his hand at a charkha at a ceremony in Ludhiana to distribute spinning wheels among women on Tuesday. (PTI picture)

The following are some of the operations Israel has acknowledged:

Operation Orchard, Sept. 6, 2007: Four Israeli air force planes crossed into Syrian air space and bombed a suspected nuclear facility in eastern Syria. The Syrian government immediately accused the Israeli Air Force of crossing into its air space illegally though President Bashar al Assad claimed the target was not a nuclear facility. After a month of silence, on October 2, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) formally confirmed the attack - the US had by then also released images of the target before and after the strike.

Ain es Saheb airstrike, Oct. 5, 2003: Four Israeli air force jets crossed into Syrian territory and bombed an alleged Palestinian terrorist camp 24 km northwest of Damascus. Both Syria and Israel acknowledged the attack though Palestinian militant groups claimed the camp was deserted. This was in response to a terror strike in Haifa, Israel.

Operation Wooden Leg , Oct. 1, 1985: Eight Israeli aircraft quietly flew into Tunisia, more than 2,000km from Israel, with a Boeing aircraft that fuelled the jets mid-air and bombed the Palestinian Liberation Organisation headquarters in that country, from where Israel claimed Palestinian terrorists had launched recent attacks on Israeli civilians. Tunisia acknowledged the attack.

Operation Opera, June 7, 1981: Israeli air force jets entered Iraq's air space and bombed a French-built nuclear reactor, also killing 10 Iraqi soldiers and one French civilian. Israel's permanent representative to the UN said it was an act of self-defence against a prospective Iraqi nuclear bomb and was conducted on a Sunday to minimise casualties. This attack marked the beginning of what was called the "Begin Doctrine" - named after Israel's then Prime Minister Menachem Begin - that the country would subsequently use to justify pre-emptive strikes.

Operation Entebbe, July 4, 1976: Probably the best-known rescue operation ever. Israeli commandos rescued 102 of 106 hostages held by Palestinian militants on a hijacked Air France plane they had landed at Entebbe airport, Uganda. The rescue efforts were acknowledged by all sides.

Operation Wrath of God, October 16, 1972 - February 14, 1988: A special team of Mossad operatives assassinated key members of the brains trust behind the Munich Olympics siege in which terrorists from the Black September group killed 11 Israeli athletes.

Operation Garibaldi,May 11, 1960: A special team of the Mossad (external intelligence) and Shin Bet (domestic investigations) captured one of the Holocaust's biggest criminals who had survived - Adolf Eichmann - in Buenos Aires after years of planning. Eichmann was brought back to Israel and, after a trial, executed.

Operations Israel has not publicly acknowledged but which their targets blame on Israel:

2010-2012: Seven top Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated - through magnetic bombs attached to their cars, booby-trapped motorcycles parked near their cars, or by gunshots from passing motorcyclists. Iran blamed each incident on Israel.

2004-2010: A series of explosions at Iranian nuclear facilities, and failed uranium processing efforts - caused by faulty components deliberately sold to Iran by shell companies in Europe set up with Israel's support, at a time when Iran could not buy these parts in the open market because of sanctions. Iran blamed Israel. Retired Israeli officials, including former ministers, have written about these efforts, though the country's government has never accepted responsibility.

February 12, 2008: Hezbollah leader Imad Moghniyeh was killed by a car bomb in Damascus, Syria, while returning from an Iranian government reception. Syria blamed Israel, which, according to most western publications too, conducted the strike. But Israel has never publicly acknowledged the assassination.

June 13, 1980: Egyptian nuclear scientist Yehia el-Mashad was assassinated in Paris. He was accused of helping Iraq with its nuclear programme. French officials accused the Mossad but could not prove its involvement. Israel denied any role.

Common factor: The target in each case accepted the attack, accusing Israel of violating international law - even in cases where Israel itself did not acknowledge the strike.