Syria Threatens, Israeli-Arab Gov't Minister Chimes In

Syrian Vice President Farouk a-Shara announced Saturday night that Syria plans to respond to Israel’s alleged entry into its airspace.

Ezra HaLevi ,

Syrian President Bashar Assad
Syrian President Bashar Assad

Syrian Vice President Farouk a-Shara announced Saturday night that Syria plans to respond to Israel’s alleged entry into its airspace.

A-Shara said that Syria’s military is still examining potential responses, but promised “the results will come soon enough.”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper published photos over the weekend of fuel tanks that it alleged Israeli F-151s jettisoned along the Syrian-Turkish border to evade Syrian anti-aircraft fire Wednesday night.

Israel’s Air Force regularly does drills over Turkey, with the Turkish government’s consent.

The US State Department uncharacteristically declined to condemn the alleged Israeli infraction. "I'd leave it up to the parties to describe what happened," deputy State Department Spokesman Tom Casey told reporters Thursday. “We'll leave it to them to try and sort this out.”

The state-regulated Syrian newspaper Tishrin accused the US, in a front-page editorial, of coordinating “this new Israeli hostile operation.” It said US silence on the matter constitutes “overt and scandalous encouragement of Israel.” Referring to the upcoming diplomatic conference on the establishment of a Palestinian state set for November, the Tishrin editorial asked: "How could a superpower call for the establishment of peace and send invitations to some countries to convene a peace conference at a time when it maintains silence over a clear violation of the simplest laws and international norms?”

Israeli-Arab Minister Accuses Israel
MK Raleb Majadle (Labor), appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as Minister of Culture, Science and Sports, broke the government’s policy of silence on the incident over the weekend. Majadle said that Israeli planes enter Syrian airspace “all the time.” He also speculated that the planes entered Syrian airspace “either to take photographs or by mistake.”
Majadle’s statement, made to an Israeli-Arab newspaper, drew fire from several sides.

Minister Tzachi HaNegbi said: "The minister should learn to show more restraint with his words. It was unacceptable to speak to the media on matters unrelated to his office."

Al-Arabiya: Mission Was to Bomb Russian Missiles
The Arabic Al-Arabiya daily claimed that unnamed Israeli sources admitted that the IAF jets were on a mission to destroy newly purchased Russian surface-to-air missiles deployed by Syria along the coast.

Israeli-Arab MK in Syria Illegally, to be Prosecuted
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter announced Saturday night that Israeli-Arab MK Sa’id Nafa will be prosecuted for disobeying Interior Ministry instructions and traveling to Syria together with a delegation of Druze religious leaders.

Nafa entered the Knesset recently after the head of his Balad Party, Azmi Bishara, fled the country and an ongoing espionage investigation.

MK Majalli Whbee (Kadima), also a member of Israel’s Druze community, heavily criticized Nafa accusing him of following in the footsteps of former Balad MK Azmi Bishara and of “fawning” over Syrian president Bashar Assad. 

Whbee dismissed Nafa and his cohorts as “marginal extremists who do not represent the overwhelming majority of the Druze community in Israel.”  However, he said, Israel should do more to stop them.  Thursday’s trip was “yet another sign that the state is hiding its head in the sand and does not do enough to cut down subversive activities carried out under the auspices of Balad and its leaders,” Whbee said.

MK Effie Eitam (National Union) slammed Nafa. “I expect that the security establishment will do all in its power to get as many details of Nafa's meetings in Syria as it can,” Eitam said. “It appears that he is following in Bishara’s footsteps, starting with simple visits to Syria and ending up as an agent.”

Ex-MK Bishara toured Lebanon last week as a guest of Hizbullah. He praised the group and its war against the Jewish state. According to a Lebanese paper, Bishara asked to meet with Hizbullah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, but the terror chief turned him down, saying that he was "busy."