Netanyahu said to huddle repeatedly with military brass over possible attack on Iran

TV report says PM held 5 meetings with defense minister, IDF chief, Mossad head, Military Intelligence chief; he tells conference world must back up promise to thwart nuclear drive

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Israel Air Force base at Hatzerim, May 18, 2021. With him are Air Force chief Amikam Norkim (left) and deputy IDF chief of staff Eyal Zamir
(Kobi Gideon / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Israel Air Force base at Hatzerim, May 18, 2021. With him are Air Force chief Amikam Norkim (left) and deputy IDF chief of staff Eyal Zamir (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly held a series of secret high-level meetings with top military officials aimed at upping preparations for a possible confrontation with Iran.

According to a Channel 12 report on Tuesday, the premier huddled five times in recent weeks with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Mossad head David Barnea, Military Intelligence chief Aharon Haliva and other military brass to discuss readying for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear program.

The report, which was not attributed to any source, included few other details about the discussions, and may itself be designed to telegraph the seriousness of Israeli threats to resort to military action in order to shut down Iran’s suspected drive toward a nuclear weapon, which Netanyahu has described as an existential threat.

The report said the result of the meetings — that Israel will act alone if the international community does not step in — had been shared with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Netanyahu on Tuesday night repeated his stance that the international community needed to back its promises to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions with serious threats to take military action or by actually putting bombers in the air.

“The only thing that has ever stopped rogue nations from developing nuclear weapons is a credible military threat or a credible military action,” he told a national security conference. “A necessary condition and often a sufficient condition is credible military action. The longer you wait, the harder that becomes. We’ve waited very long.”

On Sunday, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency said it was in talks with Iran after a report indicated that the country had begun enriching uranium to 84 percent — just a small step away from the 90% enrichment level required to create weapons-grade material.

A spokesperson for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Behrouz Kamalvandi, denied the reports on Monday, telling the IRNA state news agency, “So far, we have not made any attempt to enrich above 60%. The presence of particles above 60% enrichment does not mean production with an enrichment above 60%.”

Gallant on Tuesday publicly declared that Israel would not allow the Islamic Republic to cross the “red line” and enrich uranium to 90%.

“Israel is dealing with Syria, Hezbollah, Iran and Palestinian terror in a multi-front arena. The Iranian threat needs to be returned to the top of the global priority list,” he told a conference in Jerusalem.

“Iran is closer than ever to producing a nuclear weapon and has almost reached the red line. We will not allow that to happen — all the options are on the table. Our duty is to defend the State of Israel and the Jewish people,” Gallant said.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (left forefront) pictured during a ministerial handover ceremony at military headquarters in Tel Aviv on January 1, 2023 (Emanuel Fabian/Times of Israel)

Netanyahu, like Gallant, also took aim at Hezbollah, warning that the terror group, as well as Gaza’s Hamas rulers, should not mistake Israel’s domestic political instability for military weakness, warning that the IDF would respond “disproportionately” if either group were to provoke the Jewish state.

Israel reportedly came close to carrying out strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities on multiple occasions under previous Netanyahu governments.

Former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak said that Netanyahu aborted plans in both 2010 and 2011 to strike Iran, having been dissuaded by the IDF chief of staff at the time and by ministerial colleagues.

Barak also said there were plans in 2012 for a similar strike, but the operation was  called off because Israel was conducting a military exercise with the US at the time and Netanyahu did not want to draw the American military into a war with Iran.

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