Until they were censored a few hours ago, Israeli news reported a series of critical war games conducted with the Greek air force (take that Turkey!) which simulated an attack on Iran and subsequent attacks on Lebanon and Syria to quell their responses to the Iranian bombardment. Now, the Israeli reports talk about an “attack on a distant target” whereas the uncensored version specified Iran. Foreign sources such as Maan use this uncensored headline (in Arabic): “Israel Air Force exercise simulates attacks against Iran.” I’m displaying an Israeli TV Channel 2 which says “IDF continues to train for Iran attack.” You won’t find this headline anymore. The IDF has ordered it censored.
Channel 2’s military correspondent noted during the now-censored video segment that the coming year would be a “decisive one” concerning the Iran threat. We’ve been hearing that exact phrasing for years now. But this somehow doesn’t comfort me much.
The exercise included activation of missile defenses (e.g. Arrow, Patriot and Iron Dome) on the premise that Syrian and Hezbollah missiles from the north, and Hamas missiles from the south, would be fired on Israeli cities.
A separate story about a different military exercise, this one conducted by the Home Front civil defense forces describes a computer war game-simulated missile attack. The story begins with this mock-jaunty opening:
You may not have been paying attention but Tel Aviv today went up in flames, at least virtually. Conventional and chemical weapons were fired from Syria and Lebanon and landed throughout the city including in Bloomfield Stadium. The city apparently will be target #1 for missiles and rockets.
The report continue by praising the sophistication of the computer simulator built for the IDF by Elbit, the Israeli weapons manufacturer saying it’s just like “the real thing,” using the latest intelligence projections offered by the IDF, which presumably means it somehow reproduces the thousands of dead bodies that might be littering the streets of the city after an Iranian, Syrian or Lebanese counterattack following an Israeli attack.
A Walla report notes that for a training exercise conducted last Wednesday throughout the Negev, all flights to Eilat were diverted to Jordanian airspace to clear the area.
It seems to me these reports serve two purposes: they condition Israelis for war, which in turn makes them more likely to expect and even support it when it happens; they are a form of Psyops against Iran, Syria and Lebanon, Israel’s ostensible enemies in the looming conflict.
Odds anyone? Leave yours in the comment thread below.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.