The political and defense establishments reacted with fury on Thursday to opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu's apparent confirmation of an Israeli operation in Syria two weeks ago.
In what appears to be the first confirmation by a senior politician of foreign media reports, MK Benjamin Netanyahu told Channel One television that he was party to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision to attack Syria, an operation on which Israeli officials have remained uncharacteristically silent.
Army Radio Labor Party secretary-general, Etan Cabel, called Netanyahu's words "an outburst that is severe, stupid and irresponsible."
"Bibi [Netanyahu] is the same Bibi. I haven no idea if it is foolishness, stupidity, the desire to jump on the bandwagon, the desire to be a partner, to steal credit - or something else. It is simply very dangerous. The man simply does not deserve to lead," Cabel told Army Radio.
In an interview with Channel One news anchor Haim Yavin, Netanyahu shocked the Prime Minister's Office when he said that he was briefed on Olmert's decision to carry out an operation in Syria, gave him his backing and congratulated him.
"When the prime minister takes action in important and necessary matters, and generally when the government is doing things for the security of Israel, I give it my endorsement," he said. "I was party to this matter, I must say, from the first minute and I gave it my backing, but it is still too early to discuss this subject."
Yavin then asked Netanyahu, "did you congratulate him [Olmert] on the operation?"
Netanyahu responded, "Personally, yes."
In response to the interview, Sources close to Olmert said that "Bibi's slip of the tongue borders national irresponsibility."
An official said Tuesday that "once again Netanyahu couldn't restrain himself and he ran to tell the guys."
Members of the defense establishment also censured Netanyahu, calling his statement "the highest level of irresponsibility."
The government has remained completely silent on the affair up until now, which has resulted in a slew of speculations by foreign publications.
According to a report in this week's London-based Sunday Times, for example, an Israeli source said the supposed Israel Air Force strike came in the wake of intelligence reports suggesting Syria was been planning a "devastating surprise" for Israel. The report also claimed that Israeli ground forces were involved in the attack on a Syrian installation, which foreign sources described as a nuclear facility.