Embarrassed Again: The Bizarre Case Yesterday Of the IDF And The Drone


UPDATE 10 am Israel time Sunday:

Three people have been detained on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem this morning: one Palestinian Muslim for “organizing riots” against the police on Friday, and two Jews for the crime of “praying”. Unbelievable.

TODAY’S BLOG:

Area in the Yatir Forest of the Hevron Hills immediately after the UAV was shot down (photo courtesy Ynet News, Haim Hornstein).

An extraordinarily dangerous security incident occurred in Israel yesterday; yet this morning, 24 hours after it happened, no one–especially the clueless IDF General Command–knows exactly what happened.

The only “fact” which “seems” to be known is that an unidentified UAV drone aircraft penetrated Israeli airspace yesterday at about 10 am and flew around over southern Israel for about 30 minutes before it was shot down.

So far there have been at least two IDF versions of what took place.

IDF version 1:

Flying west to east, an unidentified UAV drone aircraft managed to fly in from the Mediterranean Sea at which point it was intercepted by Israeli F-16s which then accompanied it as it passed over Gaza, and flew alongside it over southern Israel for at least 30 minutes before shooting it down over the south Hebron Hills.

IDF version 2:

Flying north to south, an unidentified UAV drone aircraft flew down Israel’s Mediterranean coastline where it was picked up by IDF surveillance, reached a point off the Gaza coast and then turned east. The drone then crossed the Gaza coast line where it was intercepted by Israeli F-16s which then accompanied it as it passed over Gaza, and flew alongside it over southern Israel for at least 30 minutes before shooting it down over the south Hebron Hills.

In both versions, the IDF claims that the drone penetrated 56 km (35 miles) into Israel, no sensitive areas were overflown, and that the drone was not shot down immediately upon entering Israeli airspace because of the danger of shooting it down over populated areas (actually, much of the area of southern Israel and the northern Negev is unpopulated).  

Little of this IDF information meshes with the information given out yesterday by an “unnamed” senior Israeli official. That official said that the drone came from Hamas in Gaza, covered over 100 km of Israeli airspace, and flew over numerous Israeli communities, sensitive IDF army bases and installations, and even Beersheva before being belatedly shot down when the IDF realized what was happening. 

So where did the drone come from?

There are at least 5 competing theories this morning: Iran, Egypt, an American ship off the Israeli coast, Gazan Hamas, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency insists (and insisted yesterday) that the UAV was launched by Hamas in Gaza, but for no good reason (except for IDF ‘estimates’ that Hezbollah has the technology to accomplish this but Hamas doesn’t) the IDF is “leaning toward” the Hezbollah theory. The simple truth is that no one knows where the UAV came from.

What was the drone doing?

At the very least, it seems reasonable to assume that the drone was doing what most drones do–taking aerial photographs of sensitive areas and transmitting the information back to whomever was operating the drone–a fact that is apparently corroborated by some evidence this morning that the UAV was headed in the direction of Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona.

But again, no one really knows what the UAV was doing–least of all the IDF. Despite the fact that the IDF claimed yesterday that the UAV was “non-threatening” and posed no threat to Israeli citizens, as soon as the drone was shot down the IDF conducted a massive search at the crash site “for fear that the drone carried an aircraft bomb.”

Based on all of this, many of us in Israel this morning find ourselves asking the basic question: Why didn’t the IDF shoot down the UAV immediately?

Your humble servant suspects that the answer to this question is easy:  the IDF had no idea what was going on at all, and had no idea of what to do when it began to realize what was happening.

IDF spokesman Gen. Yoav Mordechai dissembled this morning that the drone was identified by the IAF “before it entered Israel”, was “accompanied by IDF jets on its entire journey over Israel”, and “could have been shot down at any moment”. Your humble servant suggests that this is unadulterated nonsense designed to cover the IDF’s “rear end”.

Speaking of covering “rear ends”, Mordechai went on to say absurdly that the heads of the IDF made the correct decision “to let the aircraft fly over Israel.” All your humble servant can say is that thank goodness the UAV did not carry bombs, or poison gas, or biological weapons. All we can be sure of is that after yesterday’s fiasco, the next UAV sent by whoever sent this one probably will have a “payload”.

So-called Israeli “Defense” Minister Ehud Barak was quick to ridiculously congratulate IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Air Force Commander Amir Eshel for their “sharp and effective performance” in the episode (for the decision to let the aircraft fly over Israel?). Barak continued on to laughably dissemble: “We view with great severity the attempt to harm Israeli air space.”

PM Benjamin Netanyahu chimed in: “We will continue to defend our borders at sea, on the land and in the air to protect the citizens of Israel.” The only problem is that the Israeli border was completely undefended and the citizens of Israel–particularly those of southern Israel–were totally exposed to danger.

If the comments of Mordechai, Barak, and Netanyahu all sound familiar, they should. They were precisely the same comments these three used when terrorists from the Sinai broke through the Kerem Shalom Crossing earlier this summer, drove a captured armored vehicle carrier through an IDF base, and proceeded to drive for kilometers down a road into Israel proper before being stopped and killed.

The sad fact is that yesterday’s events are just another case of the IDF of Ehud Barak and Benny Gantz revealing itself to be totally unprepared for the dangers facing Israel.

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