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Who would want us to think Iran crashed a drone in Israel?

Richard Silverstein reports on his blog that the aircraft that crashed in central Israel today was a “booby-trapped” foreign drone flown into the country, and that it crashed not in a field, but in a top-secret missile base (which I am not naming it here because I’m not entirely sure about my position vis-a-vis Israel’s military censors on this bit). Richard goes on to speculate the only enemy of Israel’s that can conceivably produce an aircraft such as this one is Iran, but that it’s unlikely Iran could control a drone from so far away, so it must’ve been Hezbollah, flying the drone 1,000 miles 160km* into Israeli airspace and right at one of Israel’s most sensitive military bases.

Richard attributes the information on the location and nature of the crash to  a ” confidential highly-placed Israeli source.” He places considerable weight on the fact no drones are known to be operating from said missile base, and implies this strengthens the suspicion the drone must be a foreign one.

There are several problems to this story.  According to current news reports, what crashed was Israel’s largest drone, known as “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 to attack a particularly large flock of birds. The idea a foreign aircraft can go in and fly 1,000 miles 160km 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. 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, only 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, which 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 were Richard, I would be extremely suspicious of any information – especially uncorroborated information – that helps the pro-war camp in Israel. Not to mention that the source might be acting in good faith, but is being hoodwinked by his own sources within the system.

Richard has provided some of the more important exposes about top-secret development in Israel over the past two years, relying to quite a strong degree on his own faith in the integrity of his sources. Sometimes it’s all you have to go by. But  if his source is who he says he is, it doesn’t seem far-fetched that someone in the Israeli establishment appears to have been  tempted to use Richard’s blog as the perfect channel for a bit of psy-ops.


*Correction 31/01 – I misread this particular detail in Richard’s post; and  I should’ve realised as i typed the distance from our northern border to the crash site is 160kms at most. Silly me. But it’s little more than a typo that doesn’t in the least affect the implausibility of Richard’s source’s story. Hezbollah would still need to fly an aircraft through most of populated Israel undetected, which doesn’t make any sense, and then crash it, which makes even less sense.

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    1. Kibbutznik

      ” was a “booby-trapped” foreign drone flown into the country, and that it crashed not in a field, but in a top-secret missile base ”
      Richard Silverstein also posted on his blog not that long ago that ALL Israelis are racists ( he changed it after I blew his head off )
      He is an ass Dimi, and if the Army are using him for ” psy-ops ” good on them at least he is good for something .

      Reply to Comment
    2. It is not the first time Richard is falling fro a manipulative “source”. See the story of an Israeli drone that somehow, according to Richard’s source, exploded a Hizbullah weapon depot.

      I took that apart here: http://www.moonofalabama.org/2011/11/on-silversteins-implausible-drone-explosion-story.html

      There were several other stories at his site where his “source” was proven wrong and Richard kept sticking to it.

      He either manipulates himself or wants to be manipulated.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Carl

      My favourite bit is when he says “Imagine a drone equipped with a warhead”. I think the word he’s looking for is ‘missile’.

      Reply to Comment
    4. @Judy Does an article addressing Richard as “Hamas Firster Dickie the Kapo SSilverstein” seem to be a trustworthy source to you? And as a logical next: What is your view on antisemitism?

      Reply to Comment
    5. You’ve mischaracterized my argument. I never said at any point that the drone flew 1,000 miles from anywhere. Just as you claim I am wrong in my claims, you are wrong about mine & haven’t even read my post carefully enough to present its argument.

      I argued that the drone would likely have come from southern Lebanon & been launched by Hezbollah. But that the engineering of such a flight would’ve required Iranian involvement, cooperation, technical help, etc. Not hard at all to conceive this given Iran’s close involvement with Hezbollah.

      My source btw is opposed to Israeli war against Iran. So that part of your theory goes out the window as well.

      Is it possible my source is wrong? Yes, that’s always possible.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Carl

      Richard, if anyone wanted to attack an Israeli base from a distance, they’d use a missile. Drones are either for launching missiles, surveillance or both. If you attach a ‘warhead’ to it it becomes a weak, very slow, hard to target missile. Considering Israel can hit a super-sonic ABM with the Arrow anti-ABM system, shooting a propeller driven drone down would be a minor diversion for their military – as they showed Hezbollah last time it launched some model planes over the border.
      I don’t doubt you have a source but I’d suggest more scepticism next time.

      Reply to Comment
    7. ginger

      Maybe Israelis didn’t like Richard’s first published article at ‘Foreign Policy*’ and fed his source some baloney? – or perhaps it’s an Israeli mole hunt/Plumber team trying to find Richard’s source and stop the leak?

      I really hope it’s not the latter or theat they’re not successful because Silverstein has been a really good channel into Israeli schemes regarding Iran

      *’An Alternative to War with Iran’

      Reply to Comment
    8. Lamia

      Only an idiot could believe such a story.
      If Silverstein really did get supplied this ‘story’ it shows what his sources really think of him. In his eagerness to see someone get one over on Israel, he happily regurgitated it.

      Just as likely, he simply invented it. His understanding of the subject appears to be close to zero, hence the nonsense about raising the temperature ‘in a carefully calibrated way’. His feverish hatred for Israelis has been well-noted, as above.

      The giveaway is possibly his self-admittedly creepy use of the word ‘beauty’. Oh, how to maintain an air of studious disinterest and scepticism when you really want to believe the story is true? It must have been a lovely wet-dream while it lasted, Richard, but now you have been caught with your pants down around your ankles and people are laughing at you. Again.

      Richard Silverstein: knave or fool? Or both?

      Reply to Comment
    9. Dov Levin

      Dimi gets all hot and bothered over the left’s version of Debka.

      go figure.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Andrew

      Great job demolishing Silverstein. I’m not a fan of +972 Mag at all. But this is really great, and it just goes to show you what an idiotic fool Silverstein is, that both rightists and leftists can agree on his idiocy and demolish his bizzare posts based on “ultra top secret people deep within the military.”

      Reply to Comment
    11. Kibbutznik

      ” ..what I actually wrote ”
      Richard what you wrote is total bullshit .
      I to have a secret source, my son who is an IAF officer , they printed your story and passed it around at his base he says to tell you …thanks for the laughter you made their day .

      Reply to Comment
    12. Elisabeth

      Well Dimi, are you satisfied with the level of the comments your piece attracted? I could point out more than a couple that should have been deleted for the sake of decency.

      Reply to Comment
    13. judy

      Actually, the best way to describe SIlverstein is as the Barry Chamish of the pro-Hamas Left. Chamish, you will recall, is the mentally deranged conspiracy nut who invented all sorts of “theories” about how Shimon Peres and the SHABAK really murdered Rabin, with no evidence at all. Silverstein basically churns out the same sort of factfree manure, but for the pro-Ayatollah, pro-Islamist, pro-Hamas segment for the “Left.”

      Reply to Comment
    14. Carl

      Yeah I’m with Elisabeth on that one. Richard’s article was nonsense fair enough, but this page is largely a string of inarticulate vitriol against him rather than the article. Get busy with that delete button, though I’ll cry if you wipe mine.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Zooaretz

      R. Silverstein’s fiasco in this case is simlar to his post about an Iranian general kidnapped by Israel and assasinated in Ayalon jail.
      The reason for buying such bulshit stories from his “source” is his hatered to Israel.
      RS ferociously denies that he hates Israel but, as nicely brought up here, the use of the term “beauty” uncovers him.

      Reply to Comment
    16. judy

      @ Zooaretz

      So does Silverstein’s obsessive use of mysterious nameless (no doubt imnaginary) “sources,” a trick he picked up from Barry Chamish.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Linah

      “our borders”…heh heh and more heh.

      Reply to Comment