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Israel keeps silent on mysterious Sudan airstrike

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In recent months, Israel has hinted that it is ready to use its air force against Iran as well. Israel believes Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons — a scenario that it considers a threat to its very existence. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but Israel and many Western countries dismiss this.

Israel has threatened to strike Iranian nuclear facilities if it concludes that international sanctions fail to stop the Iranians.

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Some Israeli commentators said that if Israel had indeed carried out an airstrike that caused Wednesday’s blast in Sudan, it might have been a dress rehearsal of sorts for an operation in Iran. Both countries are roughly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away from Israel, and an air operation would require careful planning and in-flight refueling.

But there are key differences as well. Iran has a far more advanced air-defense system than Sudan, and its nuclear facilities are scattered across the country in heavily fortified sites.

"The Iranians ought to be worried by Israel’s ability to deceive and achieve surprise at such a vast distance from home — if it was Israel that carried out the attack," wrote Alex Fishman, a military affairs commentator with the Yediot Ahronot daily. But, he noted, "a flight over Iran or to Iran is a more complicated effort."

Isaac Ben-Israel, a retired Israeli air force general and a former head of the Israeli space agency, said he had no idea what caused the explosion but that anyone with an advanced air force could pull it off.

He noted that Arab countries tend to blame Israel for any attack that takes place on their soil. In the case of the explosion in Sudan, he said Israel had no interest in confirming or denying its involvement.

"Even if it wasn’t us," he said, "there’s no damage in letting them think it was."


Follow Federman at www.twitter.com/joseffederman .

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