State-run television has broadcast for the first time an army film of Israel's 1981 bombing of an Iraqi nuclear reactor.
The military released the film Friday to mark the 10th anniversary of the June 7th bombing raid.The black-and-white film was shot from the cockpit of one of eight U.S.-made F-16s involved in the bombing, and narrated by one of the pilots. The narrator was identified only as Col. A and his face was not shown.
At the time, Col. A said, the pilots were told to keep the raid secret. The public was told of the bombing the day after it occurred.
Israel was widely criticized for the bombing by other countries, some of which have reversed their opinions following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait last August.
Israel claimed that the reactor, which was not yet operational, was intended for the production of atomic weapons and was a threat to the Jewish state.
The film shown Friday gave the most detailed description yet of the bombing raid.
Col. A. said that when the pilots took off, then-chief of staff Lt. Gen. Raphael Eitan passed out dates, joking that they should "get used to it, boys - if you have to jump, this is the national food of Iraq."
The pilots were also given Iraqi currency in case they were shot down and needed to bribe their way to a pickup point in the desert, he added.
Each plane carried two one-ton bombs and the team rehearsed the takeoff to make sure the F-16s could carry the weight, Col. A said.
The film documented the Israeli planes' flight down to Eilat, over Jordan and across the Euphrates River, to a point about a minute's flight time from the reactor.
Col. A said King Hussein of Jordan looked up from his yacht as the pilots passed over Aqaba. Col. A. said Hussein passed the information to officials in Amman, who apparently never relayed it to Baghdad.
As they neared the target, the pilots were heard saying: "Beautiful landscape," "The highway is exactly where we wanted," "No (anti-aircraft) batteries have awakened yet," "No MiGs in sight," "You have the air-to-ground (missiles)?"
The film showed that some anti-aircraft fire was shot at the Israeli planes, but none of the aircraft were hit.
"And here we are, beginning to bomb the reactor itself," Col. A said, pointing out the reactor and the target, a white dome, as it went up in flames.
According to an interview published Wednesday with the pilot who led the raid, the warplanes took off from Etzion, an airfield near the Red Sea.
The airfield has since been ceded to Egypt, along with the rest of the Sinai Desert, under terms of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
The pilot said in the interview with the Yedioth Ahronoth daily that he had been surprised when the Iraqis did not send any planes to fend off the attack.