Laundering the sources: How a report in China led Israeli media to report a David Sling interceptor was in Russia: Sources

On November 6, 2019 Ynet reported that “Russia has in its possession an advanced Israeli interceptor missile belonging to the David’s Sling defense system, designed to intercept planes, drones and ballistic missiles, New China News Agency reported Wednesday.”

The tree-like growth of reports

This was one numerous reports that grew quickly in Israeli media and abroad.

Haaretz: “Report in China’s Sina News says David’s Sling missile was triggered by internal clashes across Syrian border.”

JTA: “A missile from the Israeli David’s Sling air-defense system that was fired at rockets launched from Syria failed to detonate and has been turned over to Russia, according to a Chinese media report. The missile missed its mark in the June 2018 incident and was turned over by the Assad regime, the Sina news website reported. Israel and the United States have asked Russia to return the missile, according to Sina.”

IsraelHaYom: “Unconfirmed report from Chinese site SINA claims that an interceptor missile fired at Syrian targets in July 2018 might have landed without sustaining major damage, been discovered by the Syrian military, and transferred to the Russians.”

Janes also picked up the report:

“The Syrian military recovered a Stunner missile launched by Israel’s David’s Sling air-defence system, China’s Sina website reported on 2 November. It said the missile was one of two fired at a Syrian OTR-21 Tochka (SS-21) ballistic missile launched after Israel shot down a Syrian aircraft. This was an apparent reference to the first and only known operational use of David’s Sling on 23 July 2018 when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed the system launched two Stunner interceptors against two Syrian Tochkas that were initially assessed to be heading towards Israel.”

Israel Defense website: “A David’s Sling missile that landed intact in Syria in July 2018 was recovered by Syrian forces and transferred to Russia for examination, a Chinese news site reported Wednesday. The IDF estimates that the report is correct. An internal IDF investigation revealed that the David’s Sling system determined that at least one of the Syrian missiles would land in Israeli territory, and it was decided to launch an interceptor. When it became clear that the attacking missile’s course had changed, it was decided to destroy the interceptor in mid-air. However, a second interceptor that was launched shortly afterward did not hit its target and landed in Syria Syrian territory without suffering any major damage. The report adds that a Syrian military force was dispatched to the area and found the Israeli missile, which was taken to a Russian-Syrian base and then flown to Moscow, most likely for reverse engineering. The IDF estimates that the report is correct. It is safe to assume that the Russians have studied the missile thoroughly. The fear is that the secret technology developed in Israel will be used as leverage against Jerusalem, or worse – reach enemy hands.”

Moscow Times “The Russian military has allegedly obtained Israel’s new interceptor missile that Syria captured on its soil last year, Israeli news outlets reported Wednesday. Israel launched two of its intermediate ballistic missile interceptors called David’s Sling into Syria on July 23, 2018, one of which landed intact, the Middle East intelligence website DEBKAfile wrote at the time. The website expressed concerns that Russian and Syrian intelligence engineers may have ‘by now studied actively’ the missile and may have shared its secrets with Israel’s adversary Iran.”

Business Insider adds a quote: “It’s certainly a concern. If I was at Rafael, I’d be nervous right now,” Ian Williams, deputy director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic International Studies, told Insider.

Middle East Monitor points out that Raytheon has worked on this missile with Israel; “A crucial element of Israel’s defence system is at risk of becoming compromised after its advanced surface-to-air interceptor missile known as “David’s Sling” was found intact by Syrian forces and handed to the Russians to reverse engineer the technology.”

What do we know?

DAVID’s SLING, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in Israel. It “is a complete air defense system to defeat the full spectrum of air and missile threats. The system is operational on Israel Defense Forces’ missions.” It has been under development for many years. It is one of Israel’s multi-layered air defense systems, including Iron Dome and Arrow.

It is not the first time debris from a missile fell in a foreign country. In March 2017 pieces of an Arrow missile were allegedly found in Jordan after the first use of the Arrow against an incoming missile fired from Syria. Times of Israel notes “The intercepted missile apparently fell in Jordan.”

We know that the system was used in 2018. Defense News reported at the time “The missile defense system was fired July 23 to counter a missile threat. It launched two interceptors to counter two SS-21 ballistic missiles that had been fired by Syrian government forces during fighting against rebels near the Golan Heights. The Syrian missiles fell within Syrian territory. One of the interceptors self-destructed over the Golan Heights.”

Why this matters?

Besides the obvious, that a missile developed by Israel allegedly fell into the hands of Russia, it may have larger ramifications because of the connection with the US.

Israel Defense notes in April 2019 “Rafael offered Switzerland its David’s Sling system as part of an air defense tender issued by the European country. However, as recently happened in Poland, Rafael did not reach the final stage of the $8 billion-worth tender for reasons still unclear. It is possible that the reason lies in the identity of the competitors who have reached the finals: Raytheon with the Patriot and Eurosam with the SAMP/T. Traditionally, the United States, which has been involved in the financing and manufacturing of Israel’s air defense systems, does not want these systems to compete with US systems in international tenders. One of the byproducts of this tension between the two countries is the American decision to introduce Rafael’s interceptors into the Patriot missile system (SkyHunter = Iron Dome, SkyCeptor = David’s Sling).”

Breaking Defense notes in May 2019: “The United States has apparently pressured Israel to keep its David’s Sling anti-missile system out of a Swiss competition for an anti-missile system in favor of Raytheon’s Patriot system The Swiss asked for bids and, we’re hearing, the US expressed concerns to Israel. As a result the Israeli maker of David’s Sling, Rafael, did not submit a bid. Israel, as this story makes clear, really does want to bid for the Swiss competition. ‘This situation is only the tip of the iceberg,” a senior Israeli defense industry source told Breaking Defense on April 28. ‘Israel, with all its gratitude to the U.S, cannot surrender easily as was the case here.’…’The Israeli system was developed with the help of the U.S FMF (Foreign Military Financing) funds, and in spite of the fact that Raytheon is the partner of Rafael in David’s Sling program, the U.S administration sees the interest of the American companies.'”

How news is “laundered.” 

It has become common practice in the Middle East for some media to report things that never happened or to exaggerate. Sometimes intelligence services leak information to media, or state media pushes certain narratives. Sometimes a more complex relationship exists of purposeful leaks for certain agendas. Information can be laundered from one or two obscure sources to become a “report” in more mainstream media and in that way it can be reported by newspapers as record as “based on” some foreign language report. Often readers can’t check the original source, or that source is wrapped up in so many other reports that it can’t even be found.

In this case the original report could be found. After consulting with some experts on Chinese media the ur-text was located.

But.

It turns out that this is the SECOND time this story was reported in Chinese.

The first report

以色列把导弹技术“白送”给叙利亚 俄罗斯或将受益

On August 18, 2018 the Sina media’s military section reported “Israel will “deliver” missile technology to Syria and Russia or will benefit.” The actual Chinese text is above for the headline.

The author was give as “Sina military,” as if it was a column or report.

新浪军事

The full report in Google translate is pasted, with typos and mistakes included, as well as a bold section at the end that the website included:

Recently, the Israelis have done another thing to lose money. What happened? Last month, two missiles came from Syria. When Israel saw it, for the sake of safety, it directly fired two “David Stones” anti-aircraft missiles to intercept two incoming Syrian ground-to-ground missiles. Why is it called “David casts a stone”? David, we all know the man of Michelangelo’s sculpture. David is actually a Jewish hero in the Bible. It uses a sling (a sling is a relatively wide cloth) to wrap the stone, then throw it out like a chain ball, knock down the powerful and ferocious enemy, and finally save it. Jewish country. Therefore, in the eyes of the Israelites, David is the symbol and symbol of the hero. The name “David’s sling” is used to name the new missile to see the expectations of the Israelis for the new defensive missile. 

Unexpectedly, the two missiles from Syria did not fly over the border of Israel, but they crashed away from the border (I love Syria, this is to play with Israel). No way, the people did not hit you in Israel, and the missile had to be self-destructed. Therefore, the two “David Stones” missiles must not initiate self-destruction procedures. But the facts are not as simple as imagined. Only one of the two “David’s slings” successfully carried out the self-destruction process, while the other one fell into Syria. What worried Israel most was that the missile fell into the hands of the Russians, and it was troublesome. Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the Russian forces have been entrenched in Syria. The radar deployed near the Israeli-Syrian border will surely find this Israeli missile flying into Syria. What the Israeli side is not sure about now is whether the missile is complete after landing. If it is not damaged at all, I believe this is not good news for the Israelis.

The only certainty is that once the “David’s Pistons” missile was discovered by Syria and Russia, there is no doubt that they will soon take the missile away and conduct research (just like it was sent directly to Russia last time). Study slowly). The “David Throwing Stone” missile is the latest anti-missile missile jointly developed by the United States and Israel. Israel originally wanted to train its troops. However, it did not expect that the first test failed. Failure has not been said. If it is not good, it is very likely that Russia and Syria have obtained relevant technical secrets. At that time, this missile may have no secrets for Russia and Israel. The Israeli domestic media believe that it is not worth the candle. It is reported that this missile named “David Shisuo” is a missile jointly developed by the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the US Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency. It is also called the David Slingshot. In the future, the “David Stones” missile will replace the Patriot missile system currently in service in Israel. Any air target within 40 to 300 kilometers is the target that the “David Stone” missile can intercept. The “David Stones” missile project includes a total of three parts: the launch system, the command system, and the multi-mission radar. For this project, the United States not only provides technology, but also provides financial support.

In 2014, the Israeli government announced that it had completed the development of the missile. In January 2017, the “David Stones” missile was last tested. In April 2017, the Israeli Defense Ministry announced that the missile was officially in service. Compared with the patriot defense missiles deployed by Israel now, the performance of this missile is similar to that of the Patriots, but the price is only one-tenth of the “patriot”, so it is absolutely cheap. However, the “David throwing stone” missile is not perfect. It is said that the missile can only intercept some relatively fixed targets, but there is not much way to target the trajectory. We are still not sure about this point. In the two “David casts” that were launched this time, we saw that the missiles lost control. According to Israeli military sources, the missile was quickly controlled by the Syrian military after it landed in Syria. It was first sent to the Russian Hemingen Air Force Base in Syria and then transported to Russia by night. This scene is a bit familiar. It seems that Syria and Russia used to collect US and Israeli weapons. After learning that the missile had landed in Syria, Israel and the United States had negotiated with Russia through various channels, trying to return this unexploded missile. Russia will certainly not give it. It’s just that your missile has crashed. In fact, it’s clear that the Russians have not crashed. (Author’s signature: sharp edge / WT)

  For the full content of “Sheathing”, please pay attention to the Sina military official WeChat preemptive view (see WeChat public number: sinamilnews for details), “Slinging” is a full start on Sina Weiwei official WeChat every day.

  The purpose of all articles in this column is to convey more information. It does not mean that this website agrees with its views and is responsible for its authenticity. All copyrighted works on this website are copyrighted by Sina.com. All copyrighted authors are copyrighted by the original author or publisher. They may not be reproduced, extracted or otherwise used without the authorization of this website or the author.

The second report

On November 2, 2019 the Sina website again reported this incident. This is the one that became the ur-text for Israeli and western reports.

The new headline was:The Syrian army intercepted Israel’s major spoils and sent it to Russia overnight. The Russian army: The Syrian army is really capable.”

The author appears to be

小马的私房菜

The full text in Google translate:

It is understood that the current initiative of the Syrian civil war situation has gradually been in the hands of the government, and the Syrian Air Force has also received support from the Russian Air Force. The two sides cooperated in the vicinity of the Golan Heights to carry out air strikes against the remaining opposition elements, but Very close to the Israeli border, the Israeli military is worried that the Golan Heights under its control will be hit. The air defense units will be deployed to the Golan Heights to monitor the movement of the Syrian Air Force. According to insiders of the Israeli military, as long as there is no Russian Air Force, the Syrian Air Force is the main target of Israel’s attack. When it was discovered that only the Syrian Air Force carried out air missions, Israel’s air defense units deployed in the Golan Heights immediately launched anti-aircraft missiles. On the other hand, a Syrian warplane was attacked, the fighter plane was blown up, and the pilot was killed by Huang Quan. Syria has offered a solemn protest for this, but it has suffered from the lack of an equal negotiation condition.

Shortly after the attack on the Syrian Air Force, Israel launched two “David Stones” anti-missile interceptor missiles in Syria to intercept the SS-21 “Dot” tactical missiles that the Syrian army had just equipped. It is believed that this missile has been deployed in southern Syria and poses a potential threat to Israel. Just after the launch of the two interceptor missiles in Israel, one of the missiles hit the target accurately, while the other missile suffered a technical failure and did not directly hit the target.

In the face of a missile attack, the Syrian military attached great importance and immediately dispatched troops to the scene of the incident to see the location of the missile immediately after learning that an Israeli interceptor missile had fallen into Syria after a technical failure due to technical failure. After confirming that it will not detonate at all, it will be quickly collected. And Israel learned that the missile did not explode but fell into the hands of the Syrians.

In fact, there is nothing in the hands of the Syrians, and it will not let the Israelis feel any threat. However, at present, Syria and Russia are in a military alliance stage, and Russia may acquire this missile as the root cause for Israel’s urgency. This is a missile, why is Israel so worried that it falls into the hands of Russia. It is understood that the “David’s sling” interceptor missile is currently Israel’s most advanced anti-missile system. It is a high-end anti-missile system specially used to intercept ballistic missiles. It was jointly developed by the United States and Israel. Advanced technology of the missile defense system.

At present, the missile has a maximum range of 400 kilometers. The range of operations is very wide and the effect is excellent. This time Israel has smashed such a big scorpion. Unsurprisingly, the Syrian army immediately transported the missile to the Syrian-Russian base after collecting the missile, and used the transport plane to transport it to Moscow that night. I hope that by studying this missile, I can find out the weaknesses of the US ballistic missiles and make up for their own shortcomings. After the incident, the United States and Israel also required Syria to immediately return the missiles through diplomatic means. However, the Israeli missile violated Syrian airspace. After all, Israel would not be able to speak directly.

Sina notes: “Special statement: The content of the above article only represents the author’s own point of view, does not represent Sina’s views or positions. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues, please contact Sina on the 30th day after the publication of the work.”

Known unknowns

There are only two options with reports like these. Either they are true or not. If they are not true and they are simply invented, then the questions is: Why would someone invent this information, what is the agenda in revealing this? If they are true, then the question is: What are they based on, what is the agenda in revealing them? In the second scenario the report could also be partially true or based on information provided to a journalist that is partially credible. That might mean that pieces of a missile were found, for instance.

There is some discussion on whether the media itself is reliable. Does it occasionally cover politics and security, but is not really expert in this field. It could be unreliable and not accountable.

The article appears to be more in an oped or contributor format. This leads to questions about why such an interesting and sensitive piece of information came from a contributor. How did the contributor know. Why was it published in China, not the usual rumor-mill of Arabic-language publications?

China is interesting here because Arabic language sites are usually transparent in their agenda. Pro-Iran sites, for instance, have an agenda. Others, like Al-Ghad or Al-Jarida or Al-Ain, may have a different line. China is becoming more interested in the Middle East and in Syria in particular. For instance some Chinese citizens were radicalized and even went to Syria, according to VOA.

China has amicable relations with Israel, Iran, Russia and Syria. As such it could be a conduit for information from these places, but why would someone place such interesting information there, with the caveat that it might never be found. It did take three days for Israelis to begin reporting it. Likely it was sent to someone in Israel.

Information like this would only serve several agendas. True or not, it serves the same agendas. SINA is considered more reliable than some other media in China, according to sources.

Lines of thought

There are two main narratives in Israel among commentators. Either the story is “probably true because nothing is implausible,” or it is probably not true and “nonsense.” It can’t be both.

Why would it take a year for this information to come out. When a missile falls out of the sky it is located relatively quickly. If it is intact and the Syrian regime elements found it and gave it to the Russians, that is interesting. Who would know about such an incident. The person who found the debris and his extended family and friends. They could be connected to the regime or Syrian rebels. The regime elements who took the missile away would know. Iranian allies of the Syrian regime would know and the Russians who allegedly took the interceptor would know.

Would Iran want to leak this information now, after a year, to embarrass Israel amid tensions? Why leak it to China though?

The reports about the David Sling already cast questions on the 2018 incident, so what would be the point of adding more question marks a year later.

These known unknowns and unknown knowns, to paraphrase the former US Secretary of Defense, do not give clear answers.

Perhaps a few hints from the two articles. Both articles mention a US connection and both say that there were attempts to get the missile. back. But the first article implies the missile does not perform well. The second report praises the missile and says the Russias wanted it to learn about US missile technology.

The first: “For this project, the United States not only provides technology, but also provides financial support….What worried Israel most was that the missile fell into the hands of the Russians, and it was troublesome. Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the Russian forces have been entrenched in Syria. The radar deployed near the Israeli-Syrian border will surely find this Israeli missile flying into Syria. What the Israeli side is not sure about now is whether the missile is complete after landing. If it is not damaged at all, I believe this is not good news for the Israelis…Compared with the patriot defense missiles deployed by Israel now, the performance of this missile is similar to that of the Patriots, but the price is only one-tenth of the “patriot”, so it is absolutely cheap. However, the “David throwing stone” missile is not perfect. It is said that the missile can only intercept some relatively fixed targets…r. It seems that Syria and Russia used to collect US and Israeli weapons. After learning that the missile had landed in Syria, Israel and the United States had negotiated with Russia through various channels, trying to return this unexploded missile.”

The second article: currently Israel’s most advanced anti-missile system. It is a high-end anti-missile system specially used to intercept ballistic missiles. It was jointly developed by the United States and Israel. Advanced technology of the missile defense system…find out the weaknesses of the US ballistic missiles and make up for their own shortcomings. After the incident, the United States and Israel also required Syria to immediately return the missiles through diplomatic means.

Final pieces of the puzzle remain. The examination of this story is instructive of how information is spread.

 

 

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