Bibi: I congratulated Olmert on Syria op

Says he was "part of the matter from the start;" army resumes large-scale exercises on Golan Heights.

September 19, 2007 23:20
3 minute read.
Bibi: I congratulated Olmert on Syria op

syria flyover 224. (photo credit: )

In the first confirmation that Israel operated over Syria two weeks ago, opposition leader and former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that he congratulated Prime Minister Ehud Olmert following the alleged airstrike of a nuclear installation in northern Syria on September 6. Israel has officially maintained a policy of silence on the incident and until now the only statement issued by the IDF was that "we do not respond to these types of reports." Netanyahu's announcement that he congratulated Olmert was the first confirmation that Israel had operated in Syria. Speaking during a live interview on Channel 1 news, Netanyahu said that he was "part of the matter from the beginning" and that he knew to separate matters of national security from politics. Asked if he was concerned about Olmert's rise in the polls in the wake of the incident, Netanyahu said: "When we are dealing with matters of national security, I know how to give my support." Also on Wednesday, exactly two weeks after IAF planes allegedly infiltrated Syrian airspace and bombed a nuclear installation raising concerns of war, the IDF resumed training on the Golan Heights on Wednesday in a massive display of infantry and armored forces. Hundreds of armored vehicles and thousands of soldiers participated in the three-day exercise which was scheduled to be completed on Thursday. The exercise saw the implementation of a wide-range of lessons learned from the failures of the Second Lebanon War and involved infantry units, armored forces, the Engineering Corps and the Air Force. Ahead of the exercise, the IDF Foreign Liaison Office in the Northern Command asked the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) deployed in on both sides of the Israeli-Syrian border to update Damascus about the upcoming exercise. The officials explained that UNDOF was regularly updated about large-scale IDF training exercises in the Golan Heights and asked to relay "calming" messages to the Syrian military. Lt.-Col. Ronen Morali, deputy commander of the Givati Brigade, told reporters that the exercise was the culmination of a long training period which has prepared his soldiers for "any challenge ahead." Elsewhere, a day after a paratrooper was killed in clashes with Palestinian terrorists, IDF troops continued to clamp down on the Nablus camp of Ein Bet Ilmeh, killing one wanted terrorist and arresting 13 more. The operation in the Nablus camp began early Tuesday morning when soldiers swept into the town with the goal of dismantling a joint Hamas-Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror infrastructure that is in the midst of planning terror attacks against Israeli cities. IDF officers from the Central Command said the operation would continue. "We intend to operate inside the camp until we achieve our goals and the threat is neutralized," an officer explained. Palestinians said that Adib Salim Damoni, a 38-year-old handicapped man, was standing unarmed at a window of his home at the Ein Bet Ilmeh camp near Nablus when a bullet hit him in the neck. The IDF said that soldiers opened fire at an armed gunman. On Tuesday, St.-Sgt. Ben-Zion Henman, from the Paratrooper Brigade's elite Reconnaissance Battalion, was killed during heavy clashes in the Nablus camp. Henman, 22 and from the community of Nov in the southern Golan Heights, sustained a severe bullet wound that penetrated the seam of his flak jacket and entered his chest. He was laid to rest late Tuesday night in the Hispin cemetery. On Wednesday, the Haruv Battalion and the Paratrooper Brigade's Reconnaissance Battalion continued operating in the camp in search of wanted terrorists and terror infrastructure. The soldiers, who were supported by Special Forces and border policemen, discovered several hidden bomb caches inside terrorist homes and underneath their beds.

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