Daily Israel Report

Israel, Unofficially: We Struck Missiles before They Left Base

Syrian TV video shows charred remains of convoy carrying SA-17s that the IAF pounded when it was about to leave for Lebanon.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 2/2/2013, 7:01 PM

Israel explained on Friday, unofficially, what happened on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, when its planes allegedly attacked a target in Syria. It also explained why Syria gave a false version of what had happened.

Meanwhile, a video posted on a Syrian pro-Assad Facebook page apparently shows the aftermath of the IAF raid, as shown on Syrian television.

 

According to the unofficial Israeli version presented on the televised newscast, the target was a convoy of SA-17 missiles that was preparing to leave a base at Jamraya, near Damascus, in order to deliver the missiles to Lebanon's Hizbullah.

The explanation was delivered through Major General (res.) Amos Yadlin, former Head of Military Intelligence, who was the featured guest at Channel 2 Television's main weekly newscast, which is broadcast Friday evening. Channel 2's military analyst Ronny Daniel also appeared to be serving as an unofficial mouthpiece for the government in the studio.

The presenter, Danny Kushmaro, noted that due to censorship, the news team could not tell the public what it knows about the strike. Daniel then said that while he cannot quote Israeli sources on the matter, he believes that the true version regarding what happened Tuesday night is the one published by McClatchy News.

McClatchy, in turn, had quoted on Thursday "two Israeli intelligence officials familiar with the air assault," who told it that the anti-aircraft missiles targeted by the Israeli airstrike "were on a military base outside Damascus and had yet to reach the highway that leads to Lebanon when they were destroyed."

One of the officials told the news service that "waiting until the missiles had reached the highway, the main link between the Syrian capital and Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, would have made it more difficult for Israeli aircraft to target them without risking civilian casualties."

Yadlin did not dispute McClatchy's version of events, as quoted by Daniel, and explained that the strike was not a departure from Israel's policy of preventive strikes. He noted that the latest of these strikes was the bombing of a Sudanese factory that made Fajr missiles intended for Hamas. Yadlin listed several such actions going back decades, including "Operation Opera," the 1981 strike on Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor at Osirak. Yadlin himself was one of the eight F-16 pilots who led that daring raid.

Yadlin also explained why the Syrians announced that Israel had struck the Jamraya base, and not that it had struck the SA-17 convoy. The reason, he explained, was that Syria had promised Russia that the SA-17s, which are an advanced Russian weapons system, would remain in Syria, and not be transferred to Hizbullah. By dispatching the convoy, Syria was about to violate this commitment, and it therefore did not want to admit to the convoy's existence.