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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Syrian leader was at the site during sonic booms

The JPost has more details of this morning's flyover of Syrian leader Bashar Assad's Presidential palace that I reported on earlier.

The Post reports that the IDF said that the flyover was carried out by four planes flying in a low-altitude pattern, and was a part of an operation aimed at pressuring the Syrian leadership to expel Hamas Politburo chief Khaled Mashaal from Damascus. I don't understand why the IDF cannot go get Meshaal in Damascus, as I suggested yesterday.

According to Israel, Meshaal orchestrated the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, and has been calling the shots for the kidnappers.

State-run Syrian television said two Israeli planes flew near Syria's Mediterranean coast early Wednesday but did not mention Israel's announcement that the planes swooped low over the summer residence of Assad.

"The overflight by two Israeli planes near the Syrian shores is an aggressive act and a provocation," the television news said, quoting an unindentified Information Ministry official.

It said "national air defenses opened fire in the direction of the planes, and they dispersed."

"If the goal of this (overflight) is to blame the political leadership of Hamas for the abduction of the Israeli soldier, then Israel is making a big mistake that is goes beyond logic," the ministry official said, according to the TV report.

Israel tried to kill Meshaal in a botched assassination attempt in Jordan in 1997. Two Mossad agents injected Meshaal with poison, but were caught. As Meshaal lay dying in a Jordanian hospital, King Hussein of Jordan forced Israel to provide the antidote in return for the release of the Mossad agents.

Binyamin Netanyahu, who was prime minister at the time, was also forced to release Hamas's spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin from an Israeli prison as part of the price for getting the Mossad agents back. Yassin was killed in an Israeli targeted assassination in Gaza in March 2004.

After the attempted assassination of Meshaal, Jordan's relationship with Hamas deteriorated and Meshaal was expelled to Qatar, where he lived before moving to Damascus. Hussein is probably rolling over in his grave over this.


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