Today, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle crashed, apparently due to human error. Quite predictably, DouchebloggerTM Richard Silverstein posted his usual tripe, based on an “anonymous source.”
An exclusive report from a confidential highly-placed Israeli source says that a booby-trapped drone crashed and exploded at top-secret Israeli airbase… is the home of the Israeli missile arsenal including its long-range Jerichos capable of striking Iran. There were civilian and military eyewitnesses to the crash, which happened within the perimeter fence of the facility…
The eyewitnesses and Israel’s wish to avoid pressure to retaliate against the Iranians, necessitated the publication of a media cover story. The story claims an advanced Israeli drone crashed near the Yesodot moshav.. Israel also claims the drone took off from Tel Nof airbase. Eyewitnesses may be able to produce video documentation of the precise location of the crash unless it is impounded by the IDF.
The cover story reminds me in crucial ways of a similar one put out by the U.S. when it lost control of its advanced drone inside Iran. It did everything in its power to make the world believe that the drone crashed by accident and we vehemently denied it was brought down by Iranian electronic warfare capability. The more we denied the more people believed we were protesting too much.
Though crashing a drone inside Israel would appear to have Iran’s fingerprints all over it (they would certainly have greatest motivation), it’s hard to believe that Iran could fly a drone 1,000 miles with such precision. So blame will inevitably fall upon Hezbollah, a Syrian-Iranian ally, which often procures its most advanced weaponry from Iran. Hezbollah would’ve launched the drone from southern Lebanon. But I find it unlikely it could master the technological know-how to bring this off without Iranian engineering assistance.
There were no Israeli casualties and the drone explosion caused no significant damage at the base. But the very fact that Iran or its allies have escalated the psychological war of nerves in such a fashion will raise the temperature inside Israel once the true story is known. It will confirm among the hawks like Bibi, Barak and Bogie Yaalon the imperative to attack Iran. And the average Israeli man in the street will be that much more accepting of war given this new level of threat. But the “beauty” (if such a phrase is appropriate) of a drone attack is that, like the Mossad assassination of nuclear scientists, it’s hard to figure out precisely who is to blame for the attack. In that sense, it raises the temperature, but does so in a carefully calibrated way.
The fact that Israel could not detect such a threat and stop it before it did its damage indicates also some gaps in Israel’s defensive systems. Admittedly, drones are hard to defend against and Iran/Hezbollah may not have many at their disposal. But they clearly can do significant damage as we’ve seen from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. Imagine a drone equipped with a warhead (the current one appeared only to be booby-trapped, but not equipped with a warhead or missile) taking aim at the Kirya? That, of course, would be the next stage of development and one Israel might expect in the not too distant future. Certainly, a far more sophisticated step than merely crashing a drone into an airbase. But by no means beyond the realm of possibility for Iranian engineers at some point.
I have always argued that there is a price to pay for Israel’s black ops campaign against Iran. In this case, the price was very low. But it will not always be so. There’s always a price to pay. The only question is when you’ll have to pay and how much.
So in short, Silverstein wants us to believe that Hizbullah flew a booby-trapped, Iranian-produced drone and exploded it at top-secret Israeli airbase, causing no damage, just for the “ooga booga” effect. And what does he base this on? The supposed word of an anonymous “highly-placed Israeli source” and his own “intuition” (he knows it “in his bones” remember).
Besides the scenario being highly implausible, I’ll remind readers that I have proven how Silverstein does no vetting of his sources, and will eagerly believe something to be true based on little or no fact-checking. In fact, even the ultra-leftist 972 rag rips Silverstein a new one over this latest “scoop”, albeit for different reasons to me.
There are several problems to this story. According to current news reports, what crashed was Israel’s largest drone “Eitan”. The drone took off from the Tel Nof airbase and crashed between kibbutz Hafetz Haim and the town of Gedera, some ten miles away from the missile base in question, but only two miles from Tel Nof. Two miles and a malfunctioning Israeli drone seem more plausible than 1,000 miles and an ultra-sophisticated enemy aircraft to me, especially as Richard’s source provides no proof whatsoever the aircraft crashed in some location other than the one reported in the media. Ever since the Night of the Gliders Israel has been supremely paranoid about its airspace, with jets scrambling every time an unidentified aircraft comes within a few dozen miles of our borders (you can find several incidents from the past year alone). A few days ago they nearly scrambled attack a particularly large flock of birds. The idea a foreign aircraft can go in and fly 1,000 miles in broad daylight without detection and crash into one of Israel’s most sensitive military bases is bizarre to say the least.
Richard also notes in his post that “the “beauty” (if such a phrase is appropriate) of a drone attack is that, like the Mossad assassination of nuclear scientists, it’s hard to figure out precisely who is to blame for the attack. In that sense, it raises the temperature, but does so in a carefully calibrated way.” Wrong. Drones are such complex and still reasonably rare machines it would actually be extremely easy to identify where one comes from. It doesn’t seem likely Iran built a perfect imitation Israeli drone, gave it to Hezbollah to fly it into Israel, and then to have it crashed without causing any real damage.
Finally, eyewitnesses described seeing a typically dual-tailed drone clearly in distress with one wing bursting into flame shortly before impact – not exactly the behaviour of a kamikaze aircraft, manned or unmanned.
But the real question is who would have us believe this highly improbable hypothesis is true. Iran is mostly trying to avoid escalation. Why it would to give Israel a perfect casus belli by launching such a blatant military attack, that causes no significant damage, is beyond me; but I can well imagine plenty of people within the IDF who would dearly like a casus belli to bolster their case for an attack on Iran. If I was Richard, I would be extremely suspicious of any information – especially uncorroborated information – that helps the pro-war camp in Israel; not to mention the source might be acting in good faith, but is being hoodwinked by his own sources within the system..But it doesn’t seem far fetched someone in the military establishment would be tempted to see Richard’s blog as the perfect channel for a bit of psy-ops.
Update: And once again we have proof that despite his claim, Silverstein does not understand Hebrew. From the comments section to the above post:
This is certainly not the first time he’s shown he doesn’t understand the language.