The Israeli government conveyed "bitter protests" to the White House this weekend over the Obama administration’s reported leak of who was behind last week’s air raid on a Syrian base near the port city of Latakia.
Words being used by the media and officials speaking anonymously in Israel to describe what they perceive as a breach in trust on the part of the U.S. include "fury," "scandalous," “baffled” and "unthinkable."
According a Sunday report in the Israel newspaper Yedioth Ahronot, Israeli officials told their American counterparts that the leak could risk a military escalation that could “endanger the security of Israel and the region as a whole.”
The Israeli government has not commented publicly on the attack or the reports the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was behind it, but CNN quoted an “Obama administration official” who said that the target was Russian-made missiles and other equipment that Israeli defense officials believed were headed for Hezbollah.
“Israel’s fury was conveyed directly to the White House, as well as during meetings and conversations between senior Israeli officials and their US counterparts in the Pentagon, the CIA and the State Department,” the Times of Israel wrote, quoting the Hebrew newspaper report.
“Israel’s shocked complaints produced no American explanation or reaction whatsoever, the report went on, which Israeli officials ascribe to embarrassment on behalf of the administration. Israel believes the leaks may be ‘a consequence of negligence,’” it added.
According to the report, Israeli government officials are “baffled” as to the motivation behind the alleged Obama administration leak when it could have more easily expressed concern over the strike through direct communication channels with one of its closest allies. In fact, Israel doesn’t believe that the U.S. has “complaints about such Israeli activities.”
Israeli broadcasters made a point on Friday of reporting that a White House official was behind the leak.
Army Radio fingered Obama’s White House as being behind the leak, while Channel 2 News said the leak “came directly from the White House,” according to a Times of Israel report.
Israel’s Channel 10 quoted Israeli officials characterizing the leak as “scandalous” and “unthinkable,” considering the countries’ close ties. Roni Daniel, military analyst for Channel 2 said the Obama administration’s reported move was unfathomable.
Analysts across the board expressed concern the U.S. leak blaming Israel for the Syria strike could encourage Syrian President Bashar Assad to retaliate against Israel.
The leaks are “pushing Assad closer to the point where he can’t swallow these attacks, and will respond,” Daniel said, adding: “Then perhaps the US will clap its hands because it will have started a very major flare-up.”
“It is unclear why the US would leak such information, as it could increase the pressure on Syria to retaliate against Israel,” the Jerusalem Post wrote after the first reports on CNN and the Associated Press were published.
As TheBlaze previously reported, Israel Army Radio devoted an extended segment to the issue on its Friday morning news program during which veteran broadcaster Micha Friedman asked if it’s possible that while the Americans are saying “no” to Syrian chemical weapons, they are okay with weapons being transferred to Hezbollah.
Member of Knesset and retired Israeli Defense Forces General Amram Mitzna told Army Radio, “There is something absolutely perplexing that I don’t understand its meaning whereby American sources leak to the American press. The Americans know what’s happening in the region and it’s possible there’s even strategic coordination [with Israel]. It sounds very, very jarring as there are strategic relations between Israel and the U.S. for years.”
This isn’t the first time the Obama administration has upset Israeli officials by leaking sensitive military information regarding Israel’s reported operations in Syria. These include similar instances in May and July.