Benjamin Netanyahu infuriated the Olmert government by seeming to confirm Israeli warplanes struck Syria this month.
The Israeli opposition leader was asked on Channel One’s evening news Wednesday about the alleged September 6 sortie, which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Cabinet and military top brass have refused to confirm or deny took place.
While Netanyahu gave no details about the incident, he made clear that he had direct knowledge of Israel’s involvement in it.
“When the prime minister does things which, in my opinion, are important and necessary for the security of Israel, I give my backing. And here, as well, I was privy to the mattery from the outset, and I gave my backing. But it is too early to be discussing this issue,” he said during the live interview.
Asked whether he had congratulated Olmert on the operation, Netanyahu said: “Yes”.
Israeli media quoted Olmert aides as denouncing Netanyahu for breaking the official no-comment policy. U.S. officials have speculated that Israel’s air force struck a strategic military installation in Syria, perhaps even a nuclear facility, raising the stakes in long-simmering tensions between Jerusalem and Damascus.