Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings.
—The Walrus and the Carpenter
Correction: Thanks to those readers who noted my error in originally attributing this verse to Jabberwocky
The journalists which Israeli military-intelligence circles are employing to cover their sins involving the Eilat terror attack and its aftermath are certainly not kings (though they might be cabbages). And it does seem that when their sources tell them that pigs have wings, they dutifully regurgitate it to their readers without regard for credibility. They are sycophants and stenographers.
What is especially interesting though, is how the very Israeli official sources which claimed the assault was the doing of the Popular Resistance Committee and Hamas are trying to walk the horse back into the barn with new versions which ignore the worst sins of the original claims, while adding new lies, attempting to patch up the flaws of the original.
A case in point is Eli Lake’s report in today’s Washington Times which uses unnamed U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources in painting a picture that is almost totally devoid of truth or honesty. It seems that certain circles of Israeli and U.S. intelligence here in this country have done an excellent job of coordinating their stories. The Americans, despite the fact that there is little truth in the claims, seem to be parroting Israeli views quite diligently.
In his story, Al Qaeda Linked to Eilat Bus Ambush, note how the crime Bibi Netanyahu associated solely with Gaza and the Popular Resistance Committee slowly morphes into a crime linked to Al Qaeda:
A U.S. government assessment of the incident Thursday concludes that either the Palestinian group Popular Resistance Committees or the Gaza-based Army of Islam (or Jaish al Islam), a Palestinian group sympathetic to al Qaeda, carried out the commando assault and bombing raid that emanated from the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula.
The “report” of course offers absolutely no proof that any Gaza entities were involved. Nor does it mention (the truth) that no Gazans appear to have been killed in the incident. It doesn’t mention that Israel, normally eager to release identifying information about apprehended or killed terrorists, has done neither. But it does bring up a new group Israel hadn’t previously blamed, Army of Islam. The fact that it has been linked to Al Qaeda allows Lake’s sources to move attention from the Gaza angle to the Al Qaeda angle. Note how the story continues morphing in front of our very eyes:
This is the first time in the entire piece that Lake has written something likely truthful. But notice in doing so, he’s prefaced it with enough information pointing fingers back at Gaza, that Israel’s fraudulent claims regarding Hamas and the PRC don’t trouble the reader’s mind.
Lake then uses hasbara mouthpiece Dore Gold to clinch the alleged Gaza-Sinai connection with even more lies:
Mr. Gold added, “These organizations [Hamas , PRC, Army of Islam, Al Qaeda] all work together, and Sinai is a place where they all meet.”
First, while Hamas and PRC do cooperate, Hamas is at war with Army of Islam and has liquidated its members whenever it could find them. There is no evidence Hamas has cooperated with any Al Qaeda elements anywhere including the Sinai. But what Gold has done is to link Hamas and the PRC, wrong accused by Bibi Netanyahu of responsibility for the crime, with Sinai Islamist forces which likely did commit it. All in the service of obfuscating Israel’s earlier claim which it used to assault Gaza and kill 14 there who had nothing whatsoever to do with what happened in Eilat.
In the following sentence Lake belatedly adds information which provides him a suitable “out” should the lies he’s been fed be exposed by anyone authoritatively:
U.S. officials told The Washington Times there is no confirmation identifying the attacker conclusively.
He follows this with a theory which some American intelligence source passes off as authoritative, containing, at least, more truth than the earlier suppositions the journalist put forward:
And note here that there isn’t any mention of Hamas or the PRC or Gaza. Again, a small element of truth. But what this claim neglects is that native Egyptian elements were deeply implicated in the terror attack. And those who carried out the assault may or may not have been influenced or allied with Al Qaeda. But the origin of the attack was Egypt and not Gaza, and not even Al Qaeda (except insofar as Al Qaeda may be operating in the Sinai together with Egyptian Islamists).
In the following passage, Lake becomes hopelessly embroiled in the thicket of Islamist terror groups, appearing to confuse the Gazan Army of God with Sinai-based terror groups:
Over the weekend, however, as more information was gathered about the attack near Eilat, some Israeli official sources also began to acknowledge that a group known as Jaish al Islam, an extremist Muslim organization, also played a role in the attack.
If confirmed, the involvement of a new Sinai-based al Qaeda group would be yet another extremist group aligned with the goals of the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11, 2001…
Note that no Israeli source has previously blamed Army of Islam for the Eilat incident and that neither Lake nor his source offer any specific evidence to support the claim. This is the first we hear of Army of Islam in connection to the incident. The reason it’s been advanced is that there have been claims made over the past year or two that Army of Islam has made alliance with Sinai-based Islamists. By introducing the red herring of Army of Islam, Israel walks the horse back to the barn. We’re still blaming someone in Gaza for the attacks, but now we’re at least blaming a group that has some connections to the real probable perpetrators, Sinai militants.
Israeli intelligence continues trying to walk the horse that Bibi let escape from the barn back into it, by reducing the role the PRC played in the attack. Now instead of being the authors, they are merely the scouts. As such, Israel’s assassination of three of the PRC’s leaders can still be justified:
The intelligence official who said there are signs of a new Sinai-based group said initial assessments indicated the Popular Resistance Committees‘ role was limited to providing advance scouting of locations for the attack.
“PRC was clearly involved, [but] they were not the brains or the brawn of the operation. They were the scouts,” the official said. “Because the PRC squawked after the operation, they became an immediate target. It is not an unjustifiable reaction.”
There is one major problem with this claim. The PRC is Gaza based. It doesn’t operate outside Gaza. How and why would it have provided “scouting” expertise to Sinai based terrorists seeking to assault an Israeli city 100 miles from Gaza? Wouldn’t you think the Sinai-based Egyptians planning the attack could’ve done a better job of scouting Egyptian border posts and Israeli security presence in the region where the attack took place? How could the PRC have helped in any credible way? No, the explanation is lame. What it does do though, is offer Bibi a fig leaf to justify his mendacious claim of PRC authorship of the attack, which he used to justify the killings (which also killed a 2 year old boy).
Now let’s pass on to a new report from Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz’s Palestine affairs correspondent, which also adds elements of truth to the mix in the form of information that may actually be truthful but was previously withheld. Nonetheless, the information is presented solely from the IDF perspective and its purpose is solely to exonerate the IDF of blame for the terror incident and the failure to prevent it.
Issacharoff begins with the Al Masry Al Youm report that Egypt has identified three of the terrorists as Egyptian. What Haaretz doesn’t say, and the IDF knows, is that almost certainly ALL the attackers were Egyptian. That is why the IDF has not released any information about them, contrary to all previous military practice after terror incidents.
His report rather nonchalantly reveals the potentially incendiary information I reported yesterday, that an IDF force entered Egyptian territory in hot pursuit of the attackers, and that the IDF engaged and killed real Egyptian military who were trying to apprehend or kill the actual terrorists.
In this passage, the Haaretz reporter actually mischaracterizes the Al Masry report:
An Egyptian security vehicle making its way to the area of the incident was also attacked, but it remains unclear who was responsible.
The Egyptian newspaper clearly indicates, as I reported yesterday, that the Israeli helicopter and the terrorists fired on the security vehicle. At any rate, I’m certain the IDF’s helicopter proved a serious obstacle to apprehending the bad guys.
In this passage, the IDF is doing more of the walking the horse back to the barn which I described in Eli Lake’s report:
Egyptian intelligence is also aware of cooperation between members of the Popular Resistance Committees in the Gaza Strip with Islamist activists operating in the Sinai desert.
Actually, I’d never heard of such cooperation (perhaps they’re confusing Army of Islam with the PRC) and this would appear to be IDF spin made up out of whole cloth meant to justify the murder of the three top PRC leaders which Bibi crowed about within minutes of the conclusion of the Eilat attack. In fact, an Israeli who knew the PRC’s leader wrote it was unlikely he was able to mastermind such a complicated operation. The source told me his relatives and friends could not believe this attack was something the PRC was capable of. Probably because it wasn’t!
Another purpose of Issacharoff’s stenographic report on the IDF’s behalf, is to answer the Shabak’s angry outburst just after the attack, in which it claimed it offered the IDF a specific terror threat indicating the time and place of the attack. In Anshel Pfeffer’s earlier report Shabak said it told the IDF the attack would come during the day but that IDF rejected the notion that terrorists would attack by day. Note how the IDF appears to lie about the Shabak’s warning & parries the intelligence agency’s attack:
The [Shabak] intelligence warning had been an old one, and even though it was still pending, it had not become any stronger during the days before the attack.
The IDF decided, however, to step up preparedness in certain border areas, including the area where the attack took place.
The Shin Bet security service in its assessments thought any attack would come at night…
Here the IDF seems to contradict itself:
One scenario posed an attack during the day, but the target was expected to be the hundreds of workers building the border fence, and not civilian vehicles.
This is possibly the most self-serving, but truthful of all the content of this article:
The attack ultimately proved contrary to the most likely scenarios.
Why doesn’t Issacharoff simply admit the IDF was wrong and failed, which is the truth? Instead of saying that it was the terrorists’ fault the attack wasn’t foiled because they didn’t adopt the “most likely scenarios.” Why can’t the IDF include within its operational scope the “unlikely scenarios,” such as the one the attackers ultimately used, which fooled the Israelis so badly? I suppose it’s hard for a country so proud of its military to admit that a bunch of terrorists appear to have run rings around it.
From the IDF portrayal offered by Issacharoff, it appears the Israeli army believed (and perhaps still believes) that actual Egyptian security forces participated in the terror attack, (another incendiary claim). This account is truly bizarre and hard to credit, and certainly raises lots of questions:
The incident involving the Egyptians occurred later in the afternoon, while the chief of staff and the defense minister held a press conference north of Eilat. An IDF force rushed to an area where there had been more shooting. Egyptian soldiers were seen holding three men at gunpoint.
When the Israeli officers asked for the captives to be handed over, an Egyptian officer claimed that they were Egyptian soldiers. At some point the troops came under fire, and a sniper killed the anti-terrorist police officer Pascal Avrahami.
IDF and Egyptian soldiers were facing each other along the border and they came under fire from one of the groups of terrorists. They were neutralized by the soldiers. The incident ended about 6 P.M.
Were they real Egyptian soldiers? Or was the Egyptian force fooled by the uniforms into believing they were? Whose troops came under fire? I presume the Israelis. Who fired at them? The Egyptian military? Why?
The notion that the IDF and Egyptian soldiers were in the midst of a standoff arguing about who would take the three prisoners, and came under fire in the midst of all this indicates a complete level of dysfunction.
Imagine you’re an IDF officer inside Egypt. You have the chutzpah to demand custody of terrorists from Egyptian troops on their own soil? The only reason the Egyptian government isn’t screaming bloody murder over this is that they’re embarrassed they allowed Sinai terrorists to attack Eilat. Everybody has egg on their faces: Bibi lied and murdered 14 Gazans for no reason; Egypt failed to police its own territory and allowed terrorists to attack Israel. No wonder neither government is eager to ferret out the truth and reveal it publicly. Which is why blogs like this exist.
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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.