Analysis: Keeping quiet in order to prevent war

The reports in the media are the stuff of legends, but none are enough to break Israel's silence.

September 17, 2007 03:43
2 minute read.
Analysis: Keeping quiet in order to prevent war

plane 224.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

The foreign media continued on Sunday to reveal exciting new details of the alleged covert Israeli air strike in Syria earlier this month. Each report added its own piece to the puzzle. One paper claimed eight jets, backed by a high-altitude intelligence-gathering plane, participated in the foray. Another said the target was an underground bunker containing radioactive nuclear materials. None of these reports were enough, however, to break Israel's vow of silence. Since the alleged flyover, Israeli and Syrian leaders have kept mum as to what really happened over the skies of northern Syria on September 6, when Syrian air defenses allegedly opened fire on a group of Israeli F-15I bombers. While the picture is still not completely clear, and has certainly not been confirmed by official Israeli or Syrian authorities, the story that is emerging in the foreign press is the stuff of legends. Fighter jets, coming under air defense missiles, infiltrate an enemy country and bomb a nuclear facility that is being "lit up" for them by an elite commando unit operating behind enemy lines. If the foreign news reports are true, Israel has a lot to be concerned about - not only is Iran racing towards nuclear power but so is Syria. Syria is known to have a large stockpile of chemical and biological warheads and, according to the news reports, it has forged a partnership with North Korea to possibly develop a nuclear capability as well. For years now, the Israeli public has heard that one of the consequences of Iran's success in defying the world and developing nuclear power was that other Middle Eastern countries would follow suit. This is a case example. Syria's relationship with North Korea is nothing new. According to foreign reports, Syria possesses some 100 Scud-C missiles that it has bought from North Korea over the last 15 years. Some Syrian and Hizbullah reports have claimed that the alleged air foray was actually a test run by Israel for the real show - Iran. While the foreign media reports clearly dismiss that possibility - pointing out that the IAF bombed a Syrian target - if the reports are true then the alleged incident does send a clear message to Iran that Israel will not hesitate to use force to stop its enemies from obtaining nuclear power. The precedent Menachem Begin set with the bombing of the Osirak reactor in Iraq in 1981 is still in effect. Assad has his own interests in keeping quiet. While Syria was the one to reveal the alleged IAF infiltration, the country has held back from giving any additional details of what happened over its skies that night. Assad might have had to reveal that there was an infiltration due to the large number of eyewitness accounts. No more details are being provided, however, since while Assad has struck a strategic alliance with pariah states like Iran and North Korea, he misses the days when he enjoyed close ties with France and other Western countries. Official confirmation of the alleged bombing of a nuclear site and the partnership with North Korea would ruin the chances of those days from returning for a long, long time.

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