Israel believes the chances are low that Iran will respond to the US killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by attacking the Jewish state, according to Friday TV reports.
Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, said that an Iranian reprisal would probably target American assets.
“If I am one of the Iranians who needs to decide how to respond, Israel is not the first [target],” Yadlin, who now serves as head of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, told Channel 12 news.
“Israel has proved it knows how to thwart attacks and respond to attacks,” he added.
Channel 13 news also reported that Iran was unlikely to attack Israel, citing security officials.
Yadlin warned, however, that the strike on Soleimani was only the beginning and that US assets in Iraq were particularly vulnerable.
“We need to wait for the Iranian response,” he said.
The ex-general also said the current military intelligence head, Maj. Gen. Tamir Hayman, should advise political leaders “not to run and talk about certain things” publicly, apparently suggesting doing so could heighten the chance of an Iranian reprisal.
Soleimani and several top IRCG officials were killed in a US airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport shortly after midnight Friday.
Iranian leaders have vowed to avenge Soleimani’s killing, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps threatening to take action against the US and the “fake Zionist regime.”
Earlier, Channel 13 reported that the Defense Ministry had put Israeli embassies and offices on “high alert” worldwide following Iranian threats over the US strike.
Security has also been bolstered at Israeli missions deemed to be in locations regarded as “sensitive,” according to the network.
The Israel Defense Forces has also raised its alert levels. The Mount Hermon ski site near the Israel-Syria border was closed, but the IDF said it could reopen Saturday.
The resort’s management said it would remain closed Saturday however to ensure the security of visitors, and because of expected stormy weather.
Fighters from the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah, Israel’s bitter foe with which it fought a devastating war in 2006, are deployed on the other side of the border.
The heightened state of alert came after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed “severe revenge” for Soleimani’s killing, the biggest escalation yet in a feared proxy war between Iran and the US on Iraqi soil.
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett earlier Friday convened a meeting in Tel Aviv of security and intelligence chiefs to deal with the possible repercussions of the Soleimani killing.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broke off an official visit to Greece and flew home, expressing support for the overnight US strike that killed Soleimani as he arrived in Baghdad.
Israeli television reported that Netanyahu was likely briefed ahead of the strike by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, noting he alluded to “very, very dramatic things” happening in the region as he departed Thursday for Athens.
Agencies contributed to this report.