Bombs Awry |

Is Israel's Alleged Bombing of Syria Really Necessary?

The six aerial attacks on Syrian soil this year have been hailed for their effectiveness, but no one in Israel is asking the important question.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Is there any justification for Israel to bomb Syria six times in a year, as foreign media reports allege? The ones supposedly doing the bombing say there is. Is it wise to bomb Syria six times in a year? The mouthpieces for the bombers say it is. Why do we have to bomb Syria six times in a year? Perhaps because we can; perhaps because it’s effective; perhaps because no one really cares.

As if Syria were a wounded bull in a Spanish arena, Israel jabs its spears into its torn body while claiming constantly, self-righteously, that it “does not interfere in the civil war.” Israel reportedly strikes Russian-made antiaircraft missiles in Syrian warehouses, claiming they are about to be delivered to Hezbollah, which is liable to deprive Israel of its open-skies policy - the open skies of Lebanon, that is, not of Israel.

These frequent bombings are a success story: excellent intelligence, superb pilots, accurate hits. Syria says nothing, Israel says nothing, and its reporters wink “according to foreign sources,” until America exposes the supposed secret. It’s the bomb, all right. Without any public debate, without any questions being asked - that’s how it is with success stories.

That’s also how it is with a warmonger state: bombing is its language. Israel decides which weapons are allowed to pass and, above all, which ones are not. That’s its right, because it’s the strongest. It does it in the Gaza Strip and in Latakia, Syria; in Sudan and the Mediterranean Sea - anywhere it can. Israel has the right to brutally violate the sovereignty of a neighboring hostile state, to fly in Lebanese airspace undeterred - and God have mercy on anyone who tries to stop it. God have mercy, too, on anyone who dares question its judgment.

A public debate over the bombing policy will only come of the "certified success story" turns, heaven help us, into a failure - a plane shot down; a pilot taken prisoner; civilians killed; Syria retaliates; Russia wakes up; or, even worse, the United States begins to grumble. Only then will the questions begin. But by then it might be too late.

Here, then, are the doubts. Are the targeted weapons always really bound for Hezbollah? Are antiaircraft systems - defensive weapons by nature - in fact illegitimate weapons? Will Syria continue to pursue a policy of restraint and containment? How far can Israel stretch the rope until it snaps, hitting it in the face? Will Russia stay silent forever in the face of the bombing of weapons of its manufacture, in the possession of its allies? Will America always remain quiet when Israel interferes in Syria, inciting the war there - especially at a time when President Bashar Assad keeps his word meticulously in getting rid of his chemical weapons, as a result of astute American diplomacy, and when there are hints that the terrible civil war in his country may finally be coming to an end. And what would happen if one of these questions were to upset the situation in which Israel continues its bombing as though nothing had changed.

A few more heretical questions. Could there possibly be some sort of connection between the debates on the Israeli defense budget and the recent strike in Syria, which came at the height of the cabinet session discussing the issue? Is it possible that the bombardments in Syria were aimed, among other things, at maintaining the mission readiness of the squadrons ahead of the big bombing - the mother of all bombings, on Iran - which too many Israelis are still dreaming about and calling for? Were they meant to maintain the legitimacy of bombings and to prove their effectiveness, also in preparation for even greater things to come?

It works on the West Bank. Sometimes one has the feeling that the big “arrest sweep” - an entire battalion besieging, in the dead of night, a home in which a single, small rock-thrower was hiding - is just a means for training the troops and ensuring their combat readiness.

Strike after strike, it’s amazing to see not only official Israel but also the entire public domain remaining silent. Israelis hear of yet another bombardment carried out on their behalf, shrug their shoulders and perhaps even marvel at the deed, and continue on. The obedient military reporters read out loud from the press release they’ve been given but no one asks, Is all this really necessary? Is it possible that all this will end one day in blood, or at least in tears?

Archive photo of a blast near Damascus, May 2013.Credit: Screengrab

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