Samson Option: Israel's Plan to Prevent Mass Destruction Attacks
David EberhartWith American bombing raids into Afghanistan and a tough President Bush intimating more of the same for other terrorist-harboring nations, experts and armchair war-watchers are inserting nuclear powerhouse Israel into the calculus of potential Armageddon in the Middle East. Adding yet other variables, a defiant Saddam Hussein issued an ominous warning in late August, just weeks before the terror attacks on New York City and the Pentagon: "The battle [against the U.S.] continues on the economic, political and military fields. We are convinced we will be victorious."
Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2001
All that the saber-rattling Iraqi dictator left out of this latest diatribe was a bold repeat of his 1991 pre-Desert Storm boast that if America attacked, the first to feel his wrath in the "mother of all battles" would be Israel.
After decades of living among hostile neighbors, Israel has yet to be attacked by an enemy using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. One reason may be the horrific plan some claim Israel drew up to prevent such an attack. The plan was called the Samson Option. An astute investigative journalist and student of history chalked a dramatic potential solution to the volatile equation on the blackboard - a decade ago.
"Should war break out in the Middle East again and should the Syrians and the Egyptians break through again as they did in 1973 [Yom Kippur War], or should any Arab nation fire missiles again at Israel, as Iraq did [in the 1991 Gulf War], a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong possibility."
Pulitzer Prize-winning author ("My Lai 4") Seymour M. Hersh made this hypothesis in his 1991 best seller "The Samson Option."
Captured and cruelly maimed, the book’s biblical namesake uttered the ultimate fighting words, "Let my soul die with the Philistines."
That said, the divinely empowered Samson pushed apart the temple pillars - collapsing the roof and killing himself as well as his enemies.
In his exposé of Israel’s clandestine nuclear arsenal, Hersh suggested that in the early days (late 1960s) of crude big-flash-and-bang nukes, one defensive option to counter an attack on Israel with weapons of mass destruction was for the beleaguered nation to mimic Samson and grimly trade holocaust for holocaust.
Hersh's 1991 prognostication of a "strong possibility" of the use by Israel of nuclear weapons rested on his knowledge that by the mid-1980s, Israeli technicians at the super-secret Dimona nuclear plant had produced hundreds of low-yield neutron warheads capable of destroying large numbers of enemy troops with minimal property damage.