JERUSALEM (AFP) – Tensions between Israel and Syria are still running high, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday, nearly three weeks after the military’s covert air strike deep inside its arch-foe.
“Both sides are today on guard and I hope that gradually the tension will fade away and the northern front will calm down. We are certainly interested in that,” Olmert told parliament’s powerful foreign affairs and defence committee.
“We see the deployment of the Syrian forces and they see our deployment,” a senior government official quoted him as saying. “They are not interested in violent friction with us and neither are we.”
Tensions between the two neighbours, which remain technically in a state of war, were heightened after Damascus said its air defences fired on Israeli warplanes that had dropped munition deep inside Syria on September 6.
Israel has kept up a wall of silence on the incident, with the only exception being opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu saying in an interview that he was consulted and gave his approval for the raid.
Syria, which has filed a formal complaint with the UN Security Council, has likewise not provided details on the mysterious strike.
Foreign media reports have said the target of the attack was nuclear material supplied by North Korea, a charge that both Damascus and Pyongyang have denied.
In the latest such report, London’s The Sunday Times quoted sources as saying that elite Israeli commando forces had seized North Korean nuclear material during a raid on a secret military site in Syria before bombing it.
Israel had been surveying the site for months, according to US and Israeli sources quoted by the newspaper which gave no date for the commando raid or details about the material seized.
An unidentified senior American source quoted by The Sunday Times said that the US government had sought proof of nuclear-related activities before allowing the air strike by F-15 warplanes to go ahead.