Netanyahu admits IAF carried out secret operations

Prime minister tells graduating air force cadets that Israeli forces are prepared for any scenario

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Air force cadets celebrating their graduation Thursday. (photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry/Flash90)
Air force cadets celebrating their graduation Thursday. (photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israeli Air Force planes carried out a number of secret military missions in the past year in order to secure the country.

Speaking at an IAF cadet graduation ceremony, Netanyahu said the IDF was ready for any scenario that may arise.

“In the last year, in a number of theaters, we acted, sometimes openly and sometimes secretly, and we achieved our goals,” Netanyahu said.

The deliberately vague statement may have been a reference, among other actions, to reported Israeli airstrikes carried out against weapon sites in Syria. Despite hints from officials, Jerusalem has never acknowledged carrying them out.

Netanyahu also made a veiled retort to former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who earlier Thursday chided the prime minister for goading Assad by issuing threatening statements not backed by action.

“Whoever needs to know that we don’t only talk, but also act, knows,” Netanyahu said, in response to Dagan’s statement that “when you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk.”

Saying that the future of the Jewish people was dependent on Israel’s survival, Netanyahu praised the IDF for keeping the country safe.

“We want peace and we hold out our hand, but follow closely what is happening near our borders,” Netanyahu said.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who also spoke at the ceremony, praised the IAF and warned that Israel’s enemies continue to plot against the state.

“The Israeli skies are full of threats, near and far,” he said, adding that various terror groups could break their silence at any point.

President Shimon Peres, also at the ceremony, told the cadets that Israel’s air power could be used to provide opportunities.

“Whether that opportunity is renewing the negotiations between us and the Palestinians, which can be done immediately, or the threat which is a common threat to the entire world, there are two wings of the airplane — one to defend the country and the other to provide the alternative of peace,” he said.

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