Israel, U.S. plan to release details on Syria attack|
By Barak Ravid and Amos Harel
Last update - 16:58 06/04/2008
Israel and the United States are coordinating the
release of details on the air force strike in Syria last September, which
foreign reports claim targeted a nuclear installation Syria was
constructing with North Korean assistance. American officials may reveal
details of the strike later this month during congressional hearings.
ANALYSIS: The air strike in Syria is a secret that cannot be
Even though the defense establishment in Israel is opposed to any
publication of details of the attack, the Prime Minister's Bureau and U.S.
President George W. Bush's administration are of the opinion that it is
now possible to reveal details because there is little chance of a
conflagration as a result of a Syrian decision to avenge the attack.
Details of the attack are likely to be revealed by senior Bush
administration officials during hearings before Congress. Advisers to
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Yoram Turbowicz and Shalom Turjeman, discussed
the issue last week in Washington with senior U.S. intelligence officials,
and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.
During the meetings,
the two sides agreed on which details of the attack to make public and
which details could have negative implications. According to foreign
reports, Israel transfered to the U.S. detailed intelligence on the
installation attacked, and the two sides agreed not to reveal any details
without prior coordination.
The view in Washington and in
Jerusalem is that publishing details of the attack will bolster Israel's
deterrence and may even lead Syria to cool its close ties with Iran and
According to the American assessments, the
revelations about the attack will also bolster its hand in negotiations
with North Korea on dismantling its nuclear arms.
Israel defense establishment is strongly opposed to revealing any details
of the attack in Syria and expressed concern that any airing of the
details of the attack will result in lifting the strict censorship that
was imposed in Israel on this incident.
Senior figures in the
defense establishment and the Israel Defense Forces said in recent day
that Israel must convince the Americans to deliver the report to Congress
"in closed session."
Intelligence analysts in Israel maintain that
any further release of the details on the strike will contribute to the
already tense situation between Syria and Israel, which has been
exacerbated in part because of Hezbollah's plans to avenge the
assassination of the group's terrorist mastermind, Imad Mughniyah.
Any official release of the details of the attack and the nature
of the installation may push Syria's Bashar Assad into a corner and put
pressure him to respond, say intelligence officials.
possibility of details being made public has also contributed to the
mutual suspicions between the PMO and the Defense Minister's Bureau. In
political circles it is now commonly accepted that the release of details
of the attack may help bolster the public image of Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert. Some politicians have offered assessments that Olmert may decide
to lift the curtain on details of the attack close to the 60th anniversary
of Israel's independence, in early May.
Other political sources
say that the American revelations on this matter will not result in a
change in Israel's censorship policy, and insist that Olmert will not
discuss the subject of the attack during holiday interviews.
hearings at the House Intelligence Committee may be held in the coming
weeks. Congressmen have included in the bill on the intelligence budget
that American intelligence agencies will not be given large portions of
their budget unless they reveal in full the details of the strike in Syria
and the nuclear cooperation between Pyongyang and Damascus.
has led U.S. and Israeli officials to conclude that American officials
will release details of the strike during the hearings.
between the U.S. and North Korea are schedule to resume tomorrow in
Singapore. One of the American conditions for lifting the sanctions on
Pyongyang is for it to expose its nuclear collaboration with other
countries, which North Korea maintains does not exist. According to South
Korean media sources, Pyongyang has agreed to provide the U.S. with
information on its nuclear cooperation with Syria, on condition that
Washington will not make this public. The same sources stated that the
U.S. has given North Korea a list of engineers that are suspected of
involvement in the construction of the installation that was targeted in
Meanwhile, readiness levels are high at Northern Command
and in security for Israeli missions abroad, as well as at airlines, as
concerns remain that Hezbollah will try to avenge the assassination of its
terrorist mastermind, Imad Mughniyah in February.
The statement by
Defense Minister Ehud Barak last week, that Israel would retaliate with a
heavy hand against any attack, was made following deliberations with
intelligence officials. There are concerns that an order to carry out a
terrorist attack has already been issued - and Barak's tough words were
meant to signal Hezbollah and its patrons, Syria and Iran, that Israel
will respond to any attack.
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Original article: Ha'aretz
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