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IDF releases docs, video of Ilan Ramon to mark 40 years since strike on Iraqi reactor

Marking 40 years since the Israeli Air Force’s bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, the military archives publish a host of documents related to the operation, including sketches of the reactor, the written order from the army chief to carry out the strike, and a clip from 2001 in which fighter pilot Ilan Ramon spoke about the inspiration he had taken from his Holocaust survivor mother before heading out in an F-16A jet.

The rare documents were published as part of a digitization project carried out by the IDF Archive to make thousands of hours of video available to the next generations, the Defense Ministry says in a statement.

“My mother is a Holocaust survivor, she was at Auschwitz and barely survived it. Before I set out [for the Iraq operation], it was clear to me that there’s a good chance I will stay there,” Ramon is heard saying in the clip filmed in 2001.

Ramon also shared the content of a letter he received from a Holocaust survivor who suggested that he take with him to space a doll that his 7-year-old daughter had made out of a dirty towel before she headed to Auschwitz, and that had been sprinkled with her own ashes.

“Mr. Ilan, since you will be close to the heavens, open the heavens and let the heavens apologize why they didn’t respond to our cries, and I’m still asking, why? Why?” the letter said, according to Ramon, in words that later took on a new meaning since Ramon died along with the other astronauts aboard the Columbia.

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