I wrote yesterday about Alex Fishman’s expose of a hitherto secret IDF report on the Eilat terror attack. The most tantalizing claim in his piece is that Iran, which he overreaches in associating with “global jihad,” backed the attack. He offers no proof of the claim nor does he point to anything specific in the report that supports the claim. That’s why I believe Fishman’s report was likely censored or the reporter himself self-censored, so as not to expose anything to the Iranians themselves. Or, if the claim turns out to be unfounded, the lack of supporting evidence may be due to the fact that there is none, and this is yet another “flyer” by the IDF seeking to divert attention from its own operational failures.
But if the claim is true, then it’s intriguing to ask why Iran might involve itself in such an attack. It’s well-known in intelligence circles that the Mossad and possibly the MEK have had a hand in the assassination of three Iranian nuclear scientists over the past few years. Reporters like Yossi Melman, with good inside sources in the Mossad and IDF, have hinted at Israeli intelligence involvement in acts of violent sabotage and cyberwarfare (i.e. Stuxnet) against Iran.
It would be characteristic of Israel to act in its own perceived interest even if its behavior causes fierce blowback against its own citizens. If Iran supported or planned the Eilat attack it would have more than enough motivation to do so out of a need for revenge. Stuxnet too is a tool that, while it may damage Iranian nuclear production today, can be turned around Frankenstein-like to attack its creators somewhere down the line.
Recent news that a Son of Stuxnet virus named Duqu, surfaced in Europe, whose purpose seemed to be to surveill some of the same types of systems that Stuxnet attacked, indicates that these Israeli-U.S. cyberwarriors continue to troll searching for ways to damage Iranian interests.
Remember the monster that the CIA let out of the bottle when it helped create and arm the Afghan mujahedeen in the 1980s? Now, these former heroes of anti-Communist resistance become our worst enemy in the current day, killing American soldiers with equal ferocity to their former proficiency in killing Soviet soldiers.
If we in the U.S. choose to go down this road of covert terror attacks against Iran using dirty proxies like the MEK, we have only ourselves to blame when the dog turns on us and gives us a deadly mauling.
What goes around comes around. And when it does, there is no guarantee that the damage your enemy does to you won’t be as great or even greater than what you have previously done to him/her. This is a dirty, dangerous game.
I’m sure the thinking in intelligence circles is that sabotage is far less lethal than actually launching F-16s and bombing Iran and absorbing the Iranian counter attacks that would surely follow. That must’ve been the very argument Meir Dagan used in order to persuade the Israeli ministerial committee that rejected the motion of Israeli attack on Iran last year. Sabotage was a substitute for all-out war.
But even acts of discrete terror can create their own logic of counter-terror which open a very ugly Pandora’s box.
I wanted to return to the official lie-filled theory offered by the IDF for the Eilat terror, which claimed that the Popular Resistance Committee was behind the attack. This is turn led to a sustained revenge assault on Gaza and 27 dead, including a two year old boy. Israel launched these retaliatory strikes only two hours after the Eilat event occurred. The question is why? Why did they blame Gaza. Why did they attack so quickly? Now, from Alex Fishman’s reporting we know. The IDF had word of an attack before it occurred. Its intelligence said that attack would be launched from Gaza and be led by the PRC. Only problem? The attack didn’t occur when the IDF intelligence informed it it would. Instead it occured during broad daylight. Also, Gazans weren’t involved at all. Sinai Islamists were the perpetrators.
Now, if you think to the Israeli attacks on Gaza, they make perfect sense in that lopsided way in which Middle East bloodletting makes “sense.” Because Israel anticipated the Gaza based attack, it was already prepared with retaliatory measures. It was already tracking the PRC leadership who it expected were the authors of the crimes. Everything was prepared. But then the tables were turned. The actual event turned out radically different than what the IDF had expected.
At this point, Ehud Barak and the IDF brass had a decision to make: do they wait until they can properly analyze the facts before deciding what measures to take in response; or do they stick with Plan A and launch those strikes on Gaza despite the fact that it had to be clear by then that Gaza wasn’t to blame. The answer in the skewed, bizarre, horrific calculus of Israeli military-intelligence: hit Gaza. They figure: no one will know the difference. They can conceal the facts long enough so that if the truth ever came out no one would remember those 27 dead.
And that’s pretty much as it’s been played out. Israel lied through its teeth. Avi Issacharoff and Eli Lake didn’t care. They dutifully reported the company line (though Lake at least accounted for the possibility that radical Sinai Islamists might be involved–while hedging and blaming Gazans too). Alex Fishman, Idan Landau and a few others knew different. We were the dissidents. But you know what? Dissidents often report the truth. However, it’s the generals, ministers and prime ministers who are the lying conpiracy-mongers, as they were in this case.
It still sticks in my craw that Avi Issacharoff in the stenography he published in Haaretz about the attack called my claim that the Gaza retribution attacks should be investigated as a war crime, insanity. Now how insane does it appear? Does killing 27 civilians in cold blood including a 2 year old child for no reason whatsoever except to save the face of the IDF not sound like a war crime? It’s callous. It’s disgusting. I say it’s likely a war crime and hope to God someone starts investigating it as one.
If you’re a nation that is the victim of a terror attack, you may counter-attack. But only against the perpetrators, not against innocents who aren’t even bystanders. If you do, you deserve whatever you get.
If you read Hebrew, Idan has yet another excellent post going over the ground and adding his own perspective.
This article appeared at Tikun Olam