Airstrikes on Syria: Israel Acts While US and Europe Fret About Intelligence

Intelligence leaks attributed to Washington are a growing concern for the Israeli government

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The skies over two Syrian cities darkened with the smoke of Israeli airstrikes Wednesday evening. The bombing runs on sites in Damascus and outside Latakia were the sixth  time this year that Israel was reported to reach into Syria to destroy weapons systems it believed were headed for Hizballah. The reported targets Wednesday were the kind of advanced anti-aircraft batteries that, if deployed by the Shiite militia, would impede Israel’s ability to do exactly what it had just done: reach over its borders to remove a perceived threat “over the horizon.”

But if the military operation went off without an apparent hitch, the mission overall was less than a complete success.  Israel’s determination to strike discreetly, a key element in the battle plan, was undone by leaks, the most credible of which, on CNN, was attributed to U.S. officials. That report infuriated the Israeli security establishment, whose outrage brimmed over in the  Friday morning Hebrew press.  “What on earth are the Americans thinking when they finger Israel as responsible for the strikes in Syria?” Alex Fishmen asked in a Yedioth Ahronoth commentary with “Sold Us Out” as the headline. “Past experience suggests that we shared information with them on our operational activity so as to prevent embarrassment and surprise, but Washington is selling our secrets on the cheap.” A separate story on the same page said the CNN report was “causing officials in Jerusalem to tear out their hair.”

The Israelis had reason for concern.  Though Israel clearly wants the freedom to prevent Syria’s government from sharing advanced weapons with Hizballah, the Jewish State tries to do it without being drawn into Syria’s civil war. And Syrian president Bashar Assad, who has his hands full with poorly armed rebels, has scant incentive to involve the most powerful military in the Middle East.  That’s surely why in the hours after the explosions, neither party – neither Assad nor Israel – even acknowledged that things had blown up in Damascus and outside Latakia.

The silence served both sides. If either government spoke publicly of the strikes, Assad would be obliged to strike back. His foreign minister made that threat in July, following an airstrike U.S. sources also attributed to Israel. “We’ve declared to the world that we will retaliate immediately if Israel attacks again,” foreign minister Walid Moallem told Lebanese TV. “Any aggression will be met with a response of a similar magnitude.” A tit-for-tat could quickly escalate out of control.

But Washington also had its reasons to be miffed. Israel launched its latest attack on the very same day UN arms experts reported that Syria was moving briskly to dismantle its chemical weapons program, completing destruction of production and mixing equipment a day ahead of schedule. Israeli airstrikes could only threaten the delicate diplomacy, on which the promised elimination of Syria’s WMD systems balances.

All of which amplifies yet another revelation contained in the U.S. intelligence files revealed by Edward Snowden: That Israel is a “priority target” of American counterintelligence, on a short list with China, Russia, Iran and Cuba. That disclosure, reported Aug. 29 in the  Washington Post, caused barely a ripple in Israel. The two countries are extremely close allies at many levels – American citizens can serve in Israel’s army – but also are extraordinary wary of one another. Israelis take that caution in stride, as they do so much else, in the name of security.

“I can tell you with certain knowledge that [the United States] has been listening in on its allies, including Israel,” former Mossad chief Danny Yatom told the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, when word surfaced on a saucier subject — that Washington had eavesdropped on 35 world leaders.  “When the Americans think they need to listen in on someone, they’ll just do that.”

Does Israel return the favor?  Israeli security officials say they greatly doubt any Israeli intelligence service would risk eavesdropping on American leaders, or even operate in the United States without clearance from Washington. They cite a constellation of sensitivities, including Washington’s presumed lead in detecting surveillance, and the importance of U.S. military aid totaling $3 billion a year. But the shorthand explanation runs just two words:  Jonathan Pollard.  The Texas native, who held both U.S. and Israeli citizenship, was sentenced to life in 1987 for spying for Israel while working as a civilian intelligence analyst with the US Navy.

“Technologically, the U.S. is capable of knowing who is listening in, so even if Israelis wanted to, they know whatever they tried would be detected,” says Dov Weissglass, who was chief of staff to former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.  “And since we’re still licking our Pollard wounds very strongly, we are still extremely cautious on this issue.”

More than that, though, Israel places an overall lower priority on the kind of eavesdropping that has roiled relations between Europe and the Obama administration — listening in on the cell phones of elected leaders, even allies. Israel boasts a “signals intelligence” capacity, showcased by its military’s Unit 8200,  so formidable it’s often credited with the astonishing success of Israel’s hi-technology sector. But not much of that capability is directed at chatter between politicians in friendly capitals.

Wednesday’s airstrikes demonstrated where it’s typically focused instead.

“Tactical intelligence, military intelligence, that’s the real valuable information,” says Weissglass.  “What is known as political intelligence or diplomatic intelligence is nonsense.  You just have to read the paper or look on the internet to learn what’s going on, especially in a democratic country. On a Friday night in any bar in Tel Aviv, a guy with a beer and a bowl of peanuts can collect more information in an hour than you’ll ever need.”

48 comments
MachiventaMosheMelchizedek
MachiventaMosheMelchizedek

Israel like any other democracy is just doing whatever necessary to secure the sovereign of it's people and government. Interesting how none of the Canadian media networks did not cover the strikes, as well with the assault on Israel last week. What is clear, is the US is confused, an appealing to enemy region demands of weapons, instead of demilitarization plan, is like pouring gas to a fire already burning petfectly on its own.Israel is up against the very demonic energies that occupy the pits of hell, and seek to throw our planet into a barbaric Sharia Law era.

MachiventaMosheMelchizedek
MachiventaMosheMelchizedek

Israel like any other democracy is just in doing whatever necessary to secure the sovereign of it's people and government. Interesting how none of the Canadian media networks did not cover the strikes, as well with the assault on Israel last week. What is clear, is the US is confused, an appealing to enemy region demands of weapons, instead of demilitarization plan, is like pouring gas to a fire already burning petfectly on its own.Israel is up against the very demonic energies that occupy the pits of hell, and seek to throw our planet into a barbaric Sharia Law era.

YehudaElyada
YehudaElyada

Unlike the useless hysterics so beloved by Israel's haters, so noisily presented on this platform, we prefer to do the required operation without claiming credits. It's the traditional spirit of "When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk". You see, the Middle-East is really a cheap replay of the old Western standard: Nice people try to build a nation in the heart of wilderness; the lawless bad guys won't let them have a day without a gun fight; the pioneers overcome their continuous challenge with resolve not understood by outsiders; the bad guys start killing each other for some imagined reaches buried in the sand; the sheriff makes sure no bad guys have access to the Gatling gun, which can undo the fire power balance to the advantage of the wrong party, but otherwise he's quite useless. So, when the sheriff fails to execute on a promise to get rid of the top villain, a silent tough guy stands up to do it, without bothering to consult with the disapproving town elders, who are afraid of their own shadow. The only missing part, where's the fair lady who's supposed to ride with the hero towards the sunset?

guitarguymv
guitarguymv

What do you expect? Do you expect the truth from people who strap bombs on their children and send them out into supermarkets and movie theaters to blow up as many innocent civilians as possible? From people who call terrorists "martyrs?" God bless the IDF!

kon-tiki
kon-tiki

I am appalled by the Turkish stance where today their Finance Minister said they will never support Israel to strike against a MUSLIM country but they want the US to strike them. It only shows how much Turkey has gone backwards in their progression to Democracy. 

surething1050
surething1050

Israel talks with action. The US talks with empty words.

arvay
arvay

Time for Russia to stop this nonsense. Use some of those sophisticated antiaircraft missiles. The last think the IAP needs is to lose some pilots. 

eetom
eetom

" Israeli security officials say they greatly doubt any Israeli intelligence service would risk eavesdropping on American leaders, or even operate in the United States without clearance from Washington..."


Do you notice?  Israeli security officials say...

MuhammadAbbass
MuhammadAbbass

Israel's actions in general show the danger of having unintelligent and belligerent fools in government. There's not a whole lot of future going forward for the nasty little terrorist mistake of a state. Even the lock hold on media isn't changing them apples but trying to is surely further condemning said media to irrelevancy even faster.

JohnDagne
JohnDagne

Under reported Israel said a big giant came and scared them then left in the direction of Syria. They are not saying it was a relative of Goliath, but they seemed pretty scared.

john.krats
john.krats

Yet another reason not to vote for America's Utopian population, eh?

Hotpuppy
Hotpuppy

Right - because everyone knows that the tooth fairy bombed Syria.  Come on... get your head out of your bagel!  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the only country with the means and will to strike Syria is Israel.  Next newsflash!

vetramon
vetramon

AMERICANS, THIS ZIONIST REGIME IS TAKING YOU ON A PATH OF DISASTER. THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT THE STABILITY OF THE WORLD. AMERICANS, IF YOU DON'T ACT YOU ARE GOING TO REGRET IT. THE ZIONIST ENTITY KNOWS THAT THEY CAN BOMB ANYONE IN THE MIDDLE EAST BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE POWERFUL AMERICAN WAR MACHINE SUPPORTING THEM.

proppo001
proppo001

So we threw Israel under the bus just as we recently did the Libyan leader. Obama and minions are such amateurs.

mrxexon
mrxexon

Israel acts? How about Israel attacks?

We need to stop this glossing over of the zionist regime that controls modern Israel. These people are not our friends. They're users and manipulators. Their agents have been like a shadow population in Washington DC these past 30+ years. And steering US foreign policy in their favor. You KNOW they've got a hand in this Syria mess. You just know it. Mossad and other intel agencies will send people around the world to do their bidding. You think they're just going to sit on their hands with a next door neighbor? They're digging their spurs in deeply to make in go in their favor.

But I do fear for all the innocent people caught in the way of what has to come. There are millons of people on both sides of that Israeli wall that are being herded into specific areas. If you understand nazi ideology, you should know the reason behind this...

The people I speak of "look" like Jews. People in high government. But their hearts and minds belong to an agenda not unlike the nazis who made their lives so terrible just a few years before. 

It's revenge, you know. 

An anger that burns so hot at the abuse suffered, that now the abused has become the abuser. It must stop. It must be made to stop. But because nobody can, it's going to blow up in everybody's face. Israel is going to burn someday. Because it is so angry. And it may very well take out the entire region as a final act of middle fingerdom.



x

zonejack5
zonejack5

ישראל, עבודה יפה ירי מצוין! אני מניח S300 הרוסי הוא לא כל כך קשה אחרי הכל. לקח: אל תתעסק עם האנשים של אלוהים.

JohnDoeman
JohnDoeman

the astonishing success of Israel’s hi-technology sector

---

funded by American tax dollars.

it's way past time to cut the survival cord on israel.

we owe the jews nothing but contempt for killing our solders, extorting our politicians and promoting socialism worldwide.

bbsnews
bbsnews

@guitarguymv Of course the vaunted IDF regularly use civilians and children as Human Shields so they have plenty of blood on their hands as well.

For proof, go ask the Israeli High Court who ruled that the IDF's "johnny policy" is entirely illegal and wrong yet the IDF still uses children as Human Shields. 

The IDF is a farce. They are not a real military, they lost the Second Lebanon War against Hezbollah, and they have NEVER fought side by side with the US Military because they are a bunch of girly pansies that require Big Daddy with a Big Stick to protect them, US technology to keep their vaunted "edge" and American largess to even hold on to their failed and puny little country.

They are no American ally. And the Obama administration clearly knows this.


bbsnews
bbsnews

@kon-tiki The Turks are appalled that Israel got to kill many of their citizens on a Humanitarian Aid Mission to Gaza and killed them (including an American) while in international waters.

The Turks also recognize that Israel is a rogue state, out of control and drunk with colonial ambition who are not only trying to sabotage administration efforts in Syria but also peace talks with the Palestinians.

Except now, Israel is learning that President Obama is playing hard ball. Woe to Israel for screwing up American efforts in the region.

No Iran attack for them! I reckon they will just have to face the nuclear music. Bummer...

bbsnews
bbsnews

@surething1050 Empty words eh? Did you even read the article? Obviously not. Paid Hasbarian trolls do not read the articles, they just go where Bibi's office directs them, to sow lies and misinformation about Israel and its real intentions.

Thankfully the Obama administrtion is now letting Israel swing on its own hook of its own making.

As evidenced here in the comments, reality bursting could not happen to a a nicer bunch of people...



john.krats
john.krats

Better yet, deny everything and blame some dead guy for it.

jackmorpher
jackmorpher

END SAUD DOMINATION OF US FOREIGN POLICY WE WENT TO WAR IN IRAQ/ KUWAIT B/C SAUD WAS THREATEND


SAUD HAS ALL THE MONEY JEWS ARE THE BANKERS SAUD ARE CUSTOMERS

jackmorpher
jackmorpher

@vetramon SAUDS RUN AMERICAN FOREIGN POLUICY WHY DID WE GO TO WAR IN KUWAIT JEEWS MAY BE BANLERS BUT ARABS HAVE ALL THE MONEY

STOP SAUD DOMINATION IF US FOREIGN POLICY AND DISINFORMATION TROLLS LIKE VETRAMON

divebubba
divebubba

@vetramon As long as they keep killing Arab Terrorist A$$holes they are a go with me.  And I don't care about your middle east stability

EdgarLongwell
EdgarLongwell

@vetramon What do you suggest we do about it? You have to remember, a good portion of us are Evangelical Zionists who yearn for the expulsion of non-jews form the "promised land" so that Jesus can come back and end the world. 

We are teetering on the brink of obliteration, and many Americans desire destruction. This is what religion does. How do we stop it? How do we end the war machine? I'm all ears. 

jackmorpher
jackmorpher

@mrxexon if we were going to pogromify these people we would have

a few hundred yards north of your paranoia ragouts kill each other by the 100,000s and you see nothing but your own inventions

blind man blind mab blind man, try mute for a while

jackmorpher
jackmorpher

@JohnDoeman ah the liberty fog of battle you are an old man and bitter

saud run american foreign policy and our intel is lousy we can't even find our own enemies when they are given to us

israeli intel finds enemies and acts

safest place in the world for a ragout inside pax judaica, only place with free elections also, drat

zonejack5
zonejack5

@JohnDoeman  You sir are wrong, OUR ALLY Isreal stands with us every day and we with them!

minskaya
minskaya

@JohnDoeman 

The Israeli Hi technology is not funded by America. It is bought by the whole world. The socialism is promoted by unions in this country and jews mostly are out of the unions. The Jewish Torah teachings are the foundation of the Capitalism and not vice versa. 

jackmorpher
jackmorpher

@bbsnews @guitarguymv  

puny little country beat your buns half a century and more ragout to you


Israeli high court lives in la la land

jackmorpher
jackmorpher

@bbsnews @kon-tiki dead turks assumed the risk, mr bbs,  bs is short for an unprintable here and nothing newsie about that

Pals coulda had peaced in 1947 and everything they threw away since then to now, losers, even to puny country, losers loser losers

the safest place in th entire arc of islam for a ragout is inside israel

pax judacia to keep ragout from killing ragout no wonder they hate us  


should taken the 1947 offer


turks? losers since 1917 and are resurrecting the loser regime of the time


too bad

they have syrians and kurds and seculars and psycho americans n their ships, and they need MORE enemies, go figure



pals 

jackmorpher
jackmorpher

@bbsnews @surething1050 don't read bibi. he reads me

enjoy dead muslims mr bbsnews except inside israel wher ethey are allowed to liove and worship and prohibited from the worship of deth

moloch, the god of child sacrifice, is banished inside pax judaica

bbsnews
bbsnews

@divebubba @vetramon Gosh bubba, I sure hope as a result of your bumbling American attitude that the world does not hear you going on about "why do they hate us" after the next attack...

Look in the mirror bubba.

bbsnews
bbsnews

@zonejack5 @JohnDoeman Hey zone, post one, JUST ONE, photo of an IDF "soldier" fighting alongside a US Grunt who is dying in Israeli instigated ME wars...

That's right. There is NONE. That's because Israel IS NOT an ally of the US. Quite the opposite. They are an enemy of our democracy, and it is high time to cut the albatross of a failed rogue, terrorist state adrift and let them fight for themselves for once.


vetramon
vetramon

@zonejack5 @JohnDoeman zonejack5, you are so right, your ally Israel always stands with you as when they killed more than 30 marines of the USS LIBERTY or when they spy on you, and this is a fact.  

JohnDoeman
JohnDoeman

@minskaya @JohnDoeman So you don't think the $3 BILLION extorted American tax dollars a year to israel should be called funding? Opinion noted ... not shared.


jackmorpher
jackmorpher

@bbsnews @zonejack5 @JohnDoeman find an israeli instigated war? iraq was to save the house of saud

us grunts die to save saudi oil, and us grunts die b/c ragouts attacked us, ,


i hope you are just plain lieing, you can't fix stupid



JohnDoeman
JohnDoeman

@Mr.Stark ah ... the ever used anti-semitism accusation. Get over it! We don't care if you're a jew.

bbsnews
bbsnews

@Mr.Stark Benghazi was a CIA op gone bad. Get over it 'bagger...

P.S. Facts and truth is NOT antisemitism. But your cheapening of the term has been duly noted.


MuhammadAbbass
MuhammadAbbass

@Mr.Stark 

No mistake it is a well documented deliberate attempt to sink a US warship, with all hands as a false flag to get the US into a war for Israel which may well have triggered WWIII even earlier than their current hell for leather dash for the same goals in Syria along with their best 'frenemies' the fake Muslim house of Saud.  Israel

Israel's national anthem should have been "Onward Christian Soldiers" I think.

Any American who pushes the total lies of the coverup about the USS Liberty is a traitor by any definition. The survivors (some of whom are my personal friends) show this lie of a mistaken identity for the filthy propaganda it is.

Mr.Stark
Mr.Stark

@vetramon @zonejack5 @JohnDoeman 

The USS liberty was a mistaken attack in 1967, and the one spy cited in this article is from the 80s. Get over it.

It's unbelievable how much anti-Semitism and hate there is towards our closest ally Israel on these comments. Really a shame.