More than three decades ago, the Israeli jets had launched a similar attack on some of Iraq’s nuclear facilities. Menachem Begin, the then Prime Minister of Israel approved the raid on 7th June, 1981. Attacks targeted the Osirak reactor, near the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad. The Osirak raid is considered to be one of the precedents for a pre-emptive air-strike on the Iranian nuclear installations. The strike, popularly known as Operation Opera, resulted in the death of 11 military personnel, including one French soldier.
During the Operation Opera, the Israeli jets had travelled through the territory of Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis at that time had allowed the transit of the aircrafts. However, the senior government and military officials from the Kingdom warned Israel this week that the Osirak raid was a one off incident, and that the Iran-bound Israeli jets will not be allowed safe transit through the Saudi airspace. The warning was passed to the Israelis through the US officials.
Israeli intelligence agencies had earlier identified the path through Saudi Arabia, as one of the four possible air-routes for a possible strike against Iran. However, the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces have recently acquired huge amounts of defence equipment, including air-defence systems from the United States. This will make the Saudi option even more risky for Israel. The other options before Israel are even more complex, such as the routes through Turkey, Iraq and Syria.