Gov’t mute on reported attack on Syria arms convoy

“We are not relating to the incident,” PMO spokesman says on reports that Israel attacked Syrian arms convoy; silence reminiscent of response to reported September 2007 attack on Syrian nuclear installation.

January 31, 2013 01:35
1 minute read.
IAF plane takes part in maneuvers [file]

IDF jet 311. (photo credit: IDF spokesperson)


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Israeli government officials steadfastly refused any comment Wednesday on the reported Israeli attack at dawn of a Syrian arms convoy.

“We are not relating to the incident,” a spokesman in the Prime Minister’s Office said, his words echoed throughout the day by spokespeople in the Foreign Ministry and the defense establishment.

The Israeli silence on the matter is reminiscent of a similar silence following the reported September 2007 attack on a Syrian nuclear installation that Israel to this day still never formally acknowledged.

Former US deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams told The Jerusalem Post last summer that Israel decided to bomb the al-Kabir nuclear facility after thenpresident George W. Bush told then-prime minister Ehud Olmert the US had opted for a diplomatic route in trying to get the International Atomic Energy Agency to close the site.

When Bush informed Olmert of his decision to go the diplomatic route, Olmert said that strategy was unacceptable, and two months later Israel took action.

While Israel informed the US of the attack immediately afterward, Abrams said a decision was then made not to “rub the Syrians nose in the matter” by making it public, thinking that if everyone remained quiet, President Bashar Assad would not be humiliated and forced to hit back.

Indeed, news of the attack began trickling out in the Turkish media a couple of weeks afterward when jettisoned parts of Israeli fighter jets were found in Turkish territory.

Then-vice president Dick Cheney confirmed this version of events, writing in his 2011 memoir In My Time that in the days that followed the strike, “the Israeli government asked that we not reveal what we knew about the target they’d struck in the desert. They believed that widespread public discussion about the nuclear plant or the fact that the Israelis had launched the strike might force Syrian President Bashar Assad to respond, launching a wider conflict.”

It is safe to assume that similar logic may be behind Israel’s complete silence Wednesday on what reportedly took place near the Lebanese-Syrian border in the early morning.

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