Though it's tough to get official comments about specific actions Israel may take or has taken, there is no doubt that civilians and government officials here are increasingly concerned about the turmoil on their borders. On Tuesday, at an international space conference and just hours before the "event" in Syria, Gen. Amir Eshel, chief of staff of the Israeli air force, said Syria is an example of "the weakening governance in neighboring countries that heralds greater exposure to hostile activity." He continued: "We work every day in order to lessen the immediate threats and to create better conditions so that we will be victorious in future wars. This is a struggle in which the air force is a central player, from here to thousands of kilometers away."
To most of us, that sounds like a straightforward message to the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government in Egypt, radical Islamists in Lebanon, Syria, Sudan and Gaza, and the ayatollahs in Tehran. But that doesn't mean any of them are necessarily paying attention. On Wednesday, Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, Syria's ambassador in Lebanon, announced that the Zionist aggression gives Syria "the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation." Iranian state TV is threatening that the Israeli attack would have "serious consequences for Tel Aviv." And the 22-member Arab League, headquartered in Cairo, issued a statement condemning "the cruel aggression in the invasion of Syrian air space."
My calls to Israeli friends -- in and out of government -- shed little new light on what really happened in Syria this week. One, a now retired confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's, chuckled when I asked him whether the Israeli air force target was a shipment of Russian-made man-portable surface-to-air missiles. His reply: "Oliver, I'm not going to answer that. But if you really need something, you may quote me as a former Israeli government official: 'The Obama administration is committed to gun control. We are, too. Denying our sworn enemies a chance to use their weapons against us is our gun control policy.'"
Unwilling to give up, I finally got Mark Regev, Netanyahu's spokesman, to go on the record. I asked him about the reported air attack inside Syria, the sale of U.S. F-16s to Egypt and rumors of an "accident" at Iran's Fordow underground nuclear facility. His responses have to be the most creative ways of saying "no comment" that I ever have heard. They can be seen in full at http://www.foxnews.com/hannity.
Here's the bottom line: Unlike the Obama administration's self-congratulatory leaks, Israeli government officials aren't about to risk operational security for future military or covert action by talking about recent events. Nor are they willing to jeopardize U.S. aid and cooperation by raising the ire of the Obama White House. One of my friends put it this way: "Our enemies are your enemies. The jihadists will come for us first because we're closer. But they will also come for you again. Let us pray they do not come with nuclear weapons. But no matter what, America can count on Israel. I hope we can count on America."
We all should have that hope.
Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel and the author of the New York Times best-seller "Heroes Proved." To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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