War is an area of uncertainty; three quarters of the things on which all action in War is based are lying in a fog of uncertainty—Carl von Clausewitz
There is no better testimony that the situation in Syria has deteriorated into a full war than the fogginess accompanying reports from there. “Yesterday, May 3, 2013, unclear targets were hit by unknown forces; but maybe it happened the night before.” This is the only possible conclusion if integrating all what was claimed by mainstream media.
CNN quoted unnamed US officials as saying that Israel had most likely conducted the strike “in the Thursday-Friday time frame” and that Israel’s warplanes did not enter Syrian airspace; they did not believe that Israel targeted a chemical weapons facility. CBS News cited US sources claiming that Israel had targeted a warehouse. On Saturday, an Israeli official told AP that Israel had targeted a shipment of advanced missiles. Bashar Ja’afari, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations told Reuters: “I’m not aware of any attack right now.” Yet, later, Syrian sources acknowledged the damage but denied the airstrike. NBC reported that a shipment of weapons headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon had been the target. Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Adnan Mansou, claimed that IAF jets attacked targets in Syria from Lebanese airspace. Other reports were no less confusing.
Fog of War
Determined not to let the fog of war foil my plans, I got a fan and cleared the area from its poisonous clouds. The next step was to search Hebrew articles attempting to circumvent Israel’s strict censorship laws. Israeli news outlets often circumvent the censor by reporting stories “as quoted from foreign news sources,” which are not subject to the restrictions of the Israeli military censor (Israel Military Censor hits the USA). Such a report could still be an Israeli Government manipulation inwards, towards its own population, but it could provide useful hints.
Thanks to the fan I had the wind on my back. Minutes later I found what I was looking for in Yedioth Ahronot, the largest paid Hebrew newspaper. The reporter was a well known one, Tzvi Barel. Better even, the article hadn’t been translated yet to the English edition. It started with a thorough description of the targets hit. Only somebody watching the entire theatre from above and the perpetrator could know all these details. Yet, the article sited “sources with the Syrian rebels.” Syrian rebels do not have satellites. Bingo.
Birkat Ram and Mt. Hermon, Golan Heights
The Israeli newspaper claimed to have retrieved the data from a Syrian rebels website (but it didn’t provide the address; nasty!). It said that the rebels claimed to have received the data from a source within the Syrian Transport Ministry. According to this source, Israel conducted an airstrike on Damascus Airport. The targets hit were a jet-fuel depot, Syrian Army munition warehouses, military airstrips, and a civilian cargo airplane that had arrived from Iran. Overall, five targets were hit directly and exactly. Four of them were adjacent, the Iranian plane was about one kilometer from the others. Thus, this was unlikely to have been a mortars’ attack by the rebels as claimed by Syrian officials.
This solves the puzzle, if assuming that the Iranian plane contained weapons for the Hezbollah in Lebanon, and that the Israeli Air Force had fired long range missiles from Lebanon into Syria. Under these constrains, most of the reports were accurate. Simply each one provided a different angle of the event. Moreover, it strengthens recent events showing a sharp change of Israel’s policy toward Syria.
Moreover, veteran readers of this website may have right now a déjà vu moment. On January 29, 2013, the Israeli Air Force attacked a Syrian convoy in Jamraya, between Damascus and Lebanon (Assad’s Best Friend Attacks Syria), an event that was accompanied by a fogginess similar to the current one. For many years, the Syrian-Israeli border has been Israel’s quietest border. As analyzed in the article linked in this paragraph, that the leaders of both countries were silently cooperating between them. Syria and Israel had been fruitfully collaborating for a generation. This is a basic characteristic of many situations studied by Game Theory. In small enough groups, let’s say oligarchies, opposing subgroups can collaborate fruitfully without having direct contact. Since they have shared interests—in this case control over their respective civilian populations—they benefit from similar strategies, like the portrayal of each other as an archenemy while behaving like friends. While the ignorant masses applaud ultra-nationalistic discourses, deals are silently agreed; basic Game Theory.
Yet, now this has changed. Israel is attacking Syria in a variety of Ways. Recently it was reported a possible supply of weapons to the rebels by Croatia, to which Israel was an extorting party. Moreover, Israel opened a path linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Jordan/Syrian/Iraqi triple border. The Croatian weapons were handed to the rebels from Jordan. Moreover, there were the two abovementioned Israeli airstrikes on Syria and many unprecedented exchanges of fire between Israelis and Syrians on the Golan Heights. That was enough to prove the point. Yet, the astonishing news were at the bottom of the Hebrew article.
“A question must be asked,” says the article and continues, “Could Israel, or maybe it would be asked to, expand its airstrikes in Syria under the disguise of blocking weapon convoys to Hezbollah and other organizations and as an aerial umbrella designed to protect the rebels? This could be a comfortable solution to the USA, Turkey and Arab countries that are not ready to get involved directly without wide international support. Israel will create a new routine in which Syria will be a legitimate area for its air force strikes as Lebanon is.”
A few days ago there were false rumors that the Syrian Government had used chemical weapons and Israel sent the USA to war (Israel Intelligence Directorate Sends America to War). The plot failed, and now Israel is planning to drop its American bombs surplus on Syria. The fog is gone.
Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards.
In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.