In a first response by Syria to the Israeli Air Force flyover the palace of Syrian President Basher Assad, a government spokesman said: "Two Israeli military planes circled with dawn at a low height, near our shore. The air defense forces opened fire at the planes and they split up and left the area." This was Syria's official version of the event, which was broadcast on Syrian television.
In the message, Syria denied any ties or responsibility to the kidnapping of soldier Gilad Shalit in Gaza. "These aggressive operations form a provocation and are unjustified. If their goal is to place responsibility for the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier on the political leadership of Hamas (in Damascus – R.N.) – then Israel is making a scandalous mistake that is crossing the boundaries of logic," the source said.
The spokesman tried to evade Syria's responsibility and that of the Hamas leadership in Damascus for the recent kidnappings in Israel. "The operation was carried out by the Palestinian popular Resistance in Gaza and it announced this from there. This is not an operation that can be carried out from remote control," he said.
He described the Palestinian attack at Kerem Shalom as "an operation that shows the failure and internal crisis of Israel – a failure that it is trying to oust and therefore it is directing blame at others."
At the end of the Syrian news broadcast, a long interview with none other National Democratic Assembly Chairman Knesset Member Azmi Bishara ensued. Bishara spoke at length about recent incidents in Israel and the territories.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed concern over the recent incidents and the developing situation in the Palestinian Authority. Annan, who telephoned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said he spoke with Syrian President Basher Assad and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and urged them to aid in the release of the kidnapped soldier. He asked Olmert for Israel to act with restraint in its operations against the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.
The prime minister updated him on details of Operation Summer Rain and said that Israel is focusing its efforts on freeing kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
"The Palestinian Authority is not doing a thing to bring about the release of the soldier and to prevent Qassam rocket firing. Israel has lost its patience and must act to defend itself. With that it is taking steps to avoid harming innocent Palestinian civilians," Olmert told the UN secretary-general.
In the course of the evening the prime minister also telephoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and updated him on recent events in the south of the country and on operations Israel is taking in the Gaza Strip. He thanked the Egyptian president for the efforts of Egypt to try and release the kidnapped soldier and lowering tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.