Israel keeping mum on Syria to ease tensions: minister

September 17, 2007 - 0:0

BEIT-UL-MOQADDAS (AFP) -- Israel is keeping silent on its air strike in Syria to ease tensions with its arch-foe, a senior official said on Sunday, after Damascus threatened retaliation.

Israel has ""adopted an attitude that consists of saying nothing about what happened on September 6 as we are going through a tense period,"" Tsahi Hanegbi, the head of Parliament's powerful foreign affairs and defense committee told public radio.
Syria said its air defenses fired on Israeli warplanes which had dropped munitions deep inside its territory in the early hours of September 6, triggering intense media speculation about the action.
Israel didn’t confirmed the incident and has kept up a policy of official silence, with the only details on the mysterious attack coming from foreign media reports citing anonymous officials.
Hanegbi, an ally of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is the first senior official to explain the reason for the silence.
""We have to show restraint and it is in our interest to say nothing and not to make the slightest of allusions. This policy has proven itself. The tensions have slightly eased since 12 days ago. The more we bite our tongue, the better it will go,"" he said.
""The tension is the direct result of the war in Lebanon (last year). The Syrians had the impression that we were in a state of weakness and they threw themselves into an unprecedented campaign of arms purchases.""
Syria, which has also not released many details on the Israeli action, has filed a formal complaint to the UN Security Council over the affair and on Friday Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad warned that Damascus would retaliate.
""Syria has the right to react to Israeli aggression against its air space,"" Meqdad told AFP. ""Syria is used to reacting to violations and it will choose the place and the hour of the response. It will answer all Israeli aggressions.""
Hanegbi said Israel was taking seriously all threats by Syria -- its northern neighbor with which is remains in an official state of war.
""Israel is taking these threats seriously, past experience has taught us that aggressive declarations by Syrian leaders are sometimes followed by acts,"" he said.