Israel’s Air Force attacked (Haaretz report) a Syrian arms convoy inside the country that was shipping an advanced anti-aircraft system to Hezbollah forces inside Lebanon. Israel felt especially threatened by this development because it considers Lebanon within its sphere of influence and wants no interference with its right to roam the air freely over that country. It demands the freedom to surveil Hezbollah forces and facilities there to probe for threats against Israeli forces.
The Syrians also said that one of their “research facilities” was bombed and that two were killed. I haven’t been able to confirm the accuracy of this claim.
Israel appears to have taken advantage of the breakdown in civil and military control of Syria to violate that country’s sovereignty with a major attack. It isn’t the first such assault. In 2007, Ehud Olmert’s government destroyed a reputed Syrian nuclear reactor. But this incident is far different because in the middle of the conflagration that is the Syrian civil war any intervention by anyone could create a fatal fracture and precipitate even more bloodshed.
The Haaretz website main headline read, somewhat ominously, Israel Enters Syrian Civil War. If that is the case it can only be a very bad omen. Intervention is a slippery slope toward potential chaos. I hope that Kochavi was told during his Washington consultation that beyond this particular attack Israel should keep its hands off Syria. For Israel to intercede in any way to determine the outcome of the civil war in the favor of one faction of another would likely be disastrous.
Readers will recall last week I reported based on an Israeli source that Israel and other forces had sabotaged the Fordo nuclear facility. Part of the information I was offered said Bibi Netanyahu had convened an extraordinary cabinet meeting the day after the election that had evaluated the success of the Fordo operation.
But my source also noted that Haaretz was reporting that the meeting addressed the precarious situation inside Syria. In hindsight, it appears that Haaretz was correct and that the meeting did cover the impending Syria attack. Part of the meeting might’ve even included mention of a cover-story intelligence would be spreading concerning a fake Fordo incident. Since Israel would want to disguise its intentions, Haaretz’s report might’ve drawn undue attention to its intentions. The purpose of a Fordo smokescreen would be to distract not just the world’s attention, but the attention of forces in Syria, Lebanon and possibly Iran (if it was the origin for the anti-aircraft missiles) who might be seeking clues about Israel’s military moves.
After speaking with the intelligence source who offered him the Fordo report, my own source discovered that he’d been deliberately misled for reasons I outlined above. But my source told me that the intelligence operative had offered us several important stories in the past that proved accurate. All this proves is that sometimes you’re a pawn in the interests of larger or greater powers. The goal is to minimize these instances in which you might be exploited.
Israel dispatched national security advisor Yaakov Amridor to Moscow, presumably to ream Russia’s military a new asshole for daring to allow their advanced weapons systems to be transferred from Syria to Hezbollah. IDF intelligence chief Aviv Kochavi was sent to Washington to explain to the Obama administration what it intended to do and why. Presumably, the U.S. had no objection to the attack.
This is precisely the path Olmert followed before he attacked the nuclear reactor. So despite Bibi’s bluster and threats that he might go it alone against Iran, we see that he too follows a more traditional model of consultation with Israel’s military patron before launching such a major attack that could destabilize the region in a significant way.
That’s no guarantee Bibi won’t go rogue against Iran. But at least it’s a more positive indicator that cooler heads might prevail before engaging in such a dangerous and reckless adventure against Iran.
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.