IDF said to resume practicing potential strike on Iranian nuclear sites

Military chief Aviv Kohavi reportedly orders air force to ‘intensely’ drill for possible attack on Iran, after 2-year pause in training

An Israeli Air Force Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker and F-16 fighter jets perform during an air show over Tel Aviv, on May 9, 2019, as Israel marks its 71st Independence Day. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Illustrative: An Israeli Air Force Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker and F-16 fighter jets perform during an air show over Tel Aviv on May 9, 2019, as Israel marks its 71st Independence Day. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The Israeli Air Force has resumed training for a possible strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, Israeli television reported Thursday.

According to Channel 12 news, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi ordered that budgetary funds be set aside for drilling such a scenario, after a two-year hiatus.

The network said Kohavi had also ordered that the air force train “intensely” in simulating a strike on Iran’s nuclear program.

The orders were reportedly given during a meeting Kohavi held at his office in recent days.

The report did not cite a source and there was no comment from military officials.

On Monday, Channel 12 reported that the government planned to allocate NIS 5 billion ($1.5 billion) for an attack on Iran, with NIS 2 billion ($620 million) coming from the 2022 defense budget and the rest coming from the current budget.

A day later, Defense Minister Benny Gantz defended the government’s requested budget increase for the military, warning that the additional funds are necessary in order to prepare for a potential strike on Iranian nuclear sites.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi (left) and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defese Committee meeting, on October 19, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Kohavi publicly declared in January that the IDF was preparing fresh “operational plans” for a potent military strike, and in August that Iran’s nuclear progress has prompted the IDF “to speed up its operational plans,” with a fresh budget to do so.

In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last month, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declared that “Iran’s nuclear program has hit a watershed moment, and so has our tolerance. Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning… We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

United States President Joe Biden’s administration has said it is still seeking a joint US-Iranian return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, while acknowledging that it will not wait indefinitely for Tehran to return to the negotiation table.

If it fails to do so, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid this month that “every option” will be on the table — an apparent uptick in rhetoric after Biden told Bennett in August that Washington was willing to consider “other options” if the nuclear deal cannot be revived.

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