Defense Minister Benny Gantz informed senior American officials that he had ordered the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for a potential military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities if international diplomatic efforts fail to stop Tehran’s race towards acquiring nuclear weapons.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior defense official told The Times of Israel that the Israeli defense minister had reportedly presented a timeline for a potential Iran strike during his meetings in Washington with American Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Gantz reportedly also told reporters at Israel American Council’s recent summit in Florida that he had ordered the Israeli military to “prepare for the Iranian challenge at the operational level.”
Gantz, a former Israeli military Chief of Staff who is known for being politically moderate and risk adverse, has stressed that he prefers a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear threat, but confirmed that he had urged his U.S. hosts to increase the pressure on Tehran.
“There is room for international pressure – political, economic and also military – in order to convince Iran to stop its fantasies about a nuclear program,” Gantz stated.
The Israeli defense minister said that Washington supported Jerusalem, but viewed the Iranian challenge from a broader regional perspective.
“The Americans are still with us, but at the same time, we as Israelis need to understand that the U.S. has broader priorities,” said. Gantz.
Addressing the audience at the Israel American Council, Gantz said that the Iranian regime was a global threat and not merely a threat to the Jewish state.
“Iran is first and foremost the biggest threat to global and regional peace and stability, and only then is it a threat to Israel,” Gantz declared.
However, the Israeli defense minister admitted that Tehran’s genocidal threats were only directed against the Jewish state.
“Israel is the only country in the world that has a country, Iran, seeking its destruction and building the means to do it. As Israel’s defense minister, I will never let it happen,” Gantz vowed.
Israel is the only country in the world, that has another country - Iran - seeking its destruction and building the means to do it. As Israel’s Minister of Defense, I will never let it happen. pic.twitter.com/tiWMdVMFBk— בני גנץ - Benny Gantz (@gantzbe) December 11, 2021
While Israel regularly reserves the right to defend itself, Jerusalem is clearly interested in a close coordination with its main ally on crucial military operations. The New York Times reported on Saturday that Israeli officials had consulted with Washington on two separate occasions prior to launching alleged covert strikes against Tehran’s nuclear sites.
Tension is growing between Washington and Jerusalem on the Iranian nuclear issue. While both American and Israeli authorities share the same goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, they disagree on the means and the timeline for reaching this goal. As the world’s leading superpower, and located far away from the combustible Middle East, the United States tends to prefer diplomacy and a long-term approach.
By contrast, threatened with extinction, the tiny Jewish state views the Iranian threat through a much more urgent and impatient perspective.
Meanwhile, a senior Iranian military official responded to the meeting between senior American and Israeli defense officials by warning that Tehran would extract a “heavy price” if its nuclear sites were attacked by American and Israeli militaries.
“Providing conditions for military commanders to test Iranian missiles with real targets will cost the aggressors a heavy price,” reported Nournews, an Iranian state media by quoting an unnamed Iranian military official.
Modern Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion viewed non-Arab Iran as a potential ally in the Jewish state’s early years when it faced an existential threat from the surrounding Arab states. While Iran voted against the partition plan of British Mandatory Palestine in 1947, Israel and Iran enjoyed close diplomatic relations during the reign of the pro-Western secular Shah government 1953-1979. However, relations were severed by the Islamic fundamentalist ayatollah regime when it came to power in 1979.
During an interview with the Iranian state Fars News Agency on Sunday, Zohreh Lajevardi – the current Iranian regime’s representative to the Iranian parliament – presented the rivalry between Iran and Israel as dating back to the ancient Jewish story of Purim.
“The Zionist regime is the sworn enemy of Iran and Iranians, and this enmity, without any connection to the ruling regime in Iran, has a long history, so that the Zionists still celebrate Purim every year on the anniversary of the brutal massacre of the Iranian people,” Lajevardi claimed. “But with the victory of the revolution, this enmity became so public, so much so that a brief look at the events of the last 40 years proves well that this vicious regime is the sworn enemy of Iran and Iranians.”
However, Lajevardi’s regime view is one-sided and ignores many cases of excellent relations. As mentioned earlier, Jerusalem and Tehran enjoyed close relations during the more than two decades long reign of the Shah-led government from the early 1950s to the late 1970s. More than 2,500 years ago, the Persian King Cyrus helped the Jewish people returning from exile to the Land of Israel and rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem. King Cyrus is therefore celebrated in Jewish history.
During the Second World War, Iran allowed Jewish refugee children from Europe to pass through Iran on their way to Israel. The children transport later became known as the "Tehran Children." In the early 1950s, Israeli officials were allowed to transport Iraqi Jewish refugees through Iranian territory before reaching the Jewish state.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.