PM makes first public hint at alleged IAF operation in Syria
Olmert apologizes to Turkey if IAF entered its airspace; IAEA: Israel should have told us of Syrian nukes.
In the closest that Israel has come to confirming an air raid it allegedly carried out in Syria last month, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his cabinet Sunday that Turkish airspace might have been violated during the operation.
Israel has not officially commented on the raid or acknowledged carrying it out. But at Sunday's cabinet meeting, Olmert offered an ambiguous apology to Turkey, which has complained to Israel that its aircraft dropped fuel tanks on Turkish territory during the incursion.
"If Israeli planes indeed penetrated Turkish airspace, then it was without prior intent or any intent to infringe upon or undermine Turkish sovereignty, which we respect," a statement from Olmert's office cited him as telling the Cabinet.
In a conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan last week, Olmert "expressed Israel's apologies to the Turkish government and the Turkish people for any harm that might have been caused," the statement said.
Meanwhile, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, on Sunday criticized the United States and Israel for failing to provide the UN watchdog with intelligence about Syria's purported nuclear program.
ElBaradei told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the IAEA had not received any information about a Syrian program until after the bombing, which he called distressing.
"We have a system. If countries have information that a country is working on a nuclear-related program, they should come to us," said ElBaradai. "But to bomb first and then ask questions later, I think it undermines the system and it doesn't lead to any solution to any suspicion."
Israel has not given details on the alleged September 6 air strike, which some analysts speculated may have targeted a nascent nuclear reactor. Syria has denied having such a facility, saying the attack targeted an unused military building.
But reports following the incident have contradicted that account, and commercial satellite images have indicated a nuclear reactor site might have been destroyed. Syria has denied developing a nuclear reactor.