Ehud Olmert hinted that Israel’s airstrike in Syria last year could foreshadow similar actions against other national enemies.
In his first public comments since U.S. intelligence officials told Congress last week that Israel bombed a secret Syrian nuclear reactor on Sept. 6, the prime minister appeared to refer obliquely to the incident as a boon for the Jewish state’s long-term well-being.
“It seems to me that today it can be stated confidently – and not, God forbid, arrogantly – that the Israeli people has a government that knows how to protect it, that it has a leadership that knows how to look out for its security and future,” Olmert said during end-of-Passover celebrations in the southern Israeli town of Ofakim.
“And perhaps today we know a little more about this than what had been previously known by the wider public,” he added.
Israel has consistently refused to give details on the airstrike in what political pundits describe as an effort to avoid humiliating Syrian President Bashar Assad, with whom Olmert has said he wants to revive peace talks.
But the prime minister made clear he will not hesitate to act against Israel’s enemies. Notable on that list is Iran, whose nuclear program Israel considers a threat to its existence.
“We face threats from without, and we must deal with them with the same confidence, cool-headedness, and careful deliberation that we applied during all these long recent months,” Olmert said.
“We will overcome them and ensure that the Israeli people reside in its land without any fear, and with security in every corner and every region of the land.”