Israeli officials remained silent about their airstrike in Syrian territory on Wednesday, a tactic that experts said was part of a longstanding strategy to give targeted countries face-saving opportunities to avoid worsening a conflict. But Syria’s own confirmation of the attack may have undercut that effort.

“From the moment they chose to say Israel did something, it means someone has to do something after that,” said Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser in Israel and a longtime military leader. But other analysts said that Syria’s overtaxed military was unlikely to retaliate and risk an Israeli onslaught that could tip the balance in its fight against the 22-month Syrian uprising. They also said Syria’s ally Hezbollah was loath to provoke conflict with Israel as it sought to maintain domestic calm in neighboring Lebanon…

But military analysts said that the Israeli jets’ flight pattern strongly suggested a moving target, possibly a convoy near the center, and that the Syrian government might have claimed the center was a target to garner sympathy. Hitting a convoy made more sense, they said, particularly if Israel believed that Hezbollah stood to acquire “game-changing” arms, including antiaircraft weapons. Israeli leaders declared days before the strike that any transfer of Syria’s extensive cache of sophisticated conventional or chemical weapons was a “red line” that would prompt action.