Portugal and the Nickel Grass Operation

Today, few people remember what was the Nickel Grass Operation, which took place in October 1973 during the most serious of all the Arab-Israeli wars. This happened when Israel, after two weeks of fierce fighting on two fronts (against Egypt and Syria, with the support of the armies of Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and even Cuba with Pakistan), found itself in a very difficult situation. In two weeks of fighting, about 1,000 tanks were lost, about 200 aircraft were shot down, and more than 2,000 soldiers died.

Israel was on the verge of exhausting all military resources, and after the declassification of the old archives, it became known that Prime Minister Golda Meir gave the order to be ready for a nuclear strike on Arab capitals as the last measure for the survival of the state.

Not a single European country has agreed not only to the immediate supply of weapons to Israel (regarding which they have always declared that it is the only democracy in the Middle East, and in general, they are terribly ashamed of the Holocaust), but even banned American transit through their airspace.

As a result, only one European country - Portugal - agreed to use its military airfields in the Azores and Lisbon for the urgent transfer of ammunition from the US to Israel. This operation was called “Nickel Grass”, when on October 14, 1973 an air bridge was created in Tel Aviv, during which heavy transport aircraft of the American and Israeli Air Force made 567 flights and transferred much needed arms to support the Israeli army.

All this allowed Israel to end the war literally in an additional 7-10 days, completely destroy the armies of Syria and Egypt and occupy new strategic territories. Moreover, the capitals of Syria and Egypt were under threat, since the advanced positions of Israel were less than 100 km from Cairo and only 35 km from Damascus.

In this story, one point is most telling- not a single European country (except Portugal) agreed not only to support with supplies, but even to provide its airspace for the air transit of American cargo to Israel.

One more ingesting fact few know about. Golda Meir called Nixon, then in 1973 and said if America does not give weapons, Israel will be forced to drop nuclear bombs on all Arab capitals! After that, the American Congress, afraid of the consequences, gave the go-ahead for the supply of weapons to Israel. This has been a hidden fact from the public ever since. Even in her autobiography Golda didn’t disclose the true conversation between her and Nixon. All she wrote was that she appealed to his humanity and told him that if help does not come now the Jewish nation will perish. But the truth was far from it.