With the entire world on edge over (possible) impending airstrikes on Syria, it seems that Israel decided to freak everyone out and start launching ballistic missiles into the sea.
Around 6:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday morning, Russian news services began reporting that Russian-based radar systems detected two ballistic "objects" over the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. With multiple U.S. warships already in the region, and Barack Obama threatening an attack on Syria, officials naturally wondered if this was the planned assault they were worried about. When nothing fell out of the sky on Damascus, it soon became apparent that whatever was shot into the air had fallen harmlessly into the water.
However, that didn't answer the questions about who was behind it. France says they had no information. The United Kingdom said they knew about the missile, but had nothing to do with. NATO had no clue. The U.S. was keeping its mouth shut. And Israel told Reuters they were "not aware, at this time, of such an event having occurred." Then less than 30 minutes later the Israelis changed course, admitting that they actually did fire the missiles as part of a joint operation with the United States.
The launch was reportedly just "target practice" for Israel's own missile defense system, which is all well and good, but now may not be the best time to start launch giant missiles around the Middle East without telling people beforehand. (Unless you're also trying to test your enemy's alertness, in which case you're not being very subtle about it.) After all, Barack Obama has all but promised to rain Tomahawks down on the Syrian capital at some point in the next month, so it won't take much for everyone involved in this standoff to start firing whatever they have and whoever they think they can hit. At times like this, it's best to keep these little "misunderstandings" to a minimum.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.