What Current And Former Israeli Security Officials Think About A Potential War With Iran

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has warned about attacking Iran

Members of Congress have been intensifying their Iran-war rhetoric in recent days. For example, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) are planning to introduce a resolution that urges the United States government to support Israel — militarily, economically and diplomatically — should the Jewish state be “compelled to take military action” against Iran.

While it appears that Congress, still struggling to shake the neocons’ influence, tends to favor a more militaristic approach toward the Islamic Republic, the Obama administration has focused on a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis, while pledging to take no options off the table and also warning about what war with Iran would look like.

But given now the Graham-Menendez resolution, what do the Israelis think about war with Iran? It’s no secret the current Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu is the most vocal about pushing a military option with Iran, but over the past two years, numerous former and current high-level members of Israel’s security establishment have pushed back. Below is a compilation of those statements:


“Mr. Netanyahu has been playing the role of irresponsible player in the region [with his threats against Iran].That raises the questions: Does he mean it? And what is the price?” — Ami Ayalon, former head of the Shin Bet, [10/25/12]

They talk too much, they talk too loud. They are creating an atmosphere and a momentum that may go out of their control.” — Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, [04/30/12]

I don’t think Israel should use the military option. I don’t agree with some of my colleagues who support a military strike. An attack on Iran wouldn’t add anything to our security.” — Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, [04/16/12]

“An attack on Iran before you’re exploring all other approaches is not the right way how to do it.” — Meir Dagan, former Mossad chief, [03/08/12]


“I think the use of the red line creates clarity on the one hand and it also creates a commitment that not always can be met. And therefore, I personally felt that the use of a red line is not conducive to the ultimate aim.” — Efraim Halevy, former director of the Mossad, [10/18/12]

I don’t believe in red line policies.” — Former IDF Chief of Staff and Air Force Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, [09/10/12]

“Red lines” only serve to make the country that creates them “lose credibility” with the other party. — Brig. Gen. (ret) Shlomo Brom, Former director of the Strategic Planning Division in the Planning Branch of the General Staff, [10/12/12]


An Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” — Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, [05/06/11]

I don’t think that anyone in Israel thinks we should attack immediately in spite of all the noises recently.” — Former Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff and Air Force Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, [09/10/12]

We shouldn’t rush — we shouldn’t present it as though it must happen in the autumn.” Lt.-Col. (ret) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, former Israeli army chief of staff, [08/14/12]

There is enough time to try different avenues of pressure to change the balance of power with Iran without the need for a direct military confrontation with Iran.” — Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, [04/29/12]

“It is quite clear that much if not all of the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] leadership do not support military action at this point.” — Former IDF chief Lt-Gen Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, [02/02/12]

“Now, it is clear to us that we cannot do it alone. We can delay. It is clear to us that we have to proceed together with America.” – Shimon Peres, President of Israel [8/17/2012]


It would galvanize Iranian society behind the leadership and create unity around the nuclear issue.” — Meir Dagan, former Mossad chief, [09/03/12]


“If Israel will attack, there is no doubt in my mind that this will also provide them with the justification to go ahead and move quickly to nuclear weapons.” — Meir Dagan, former Mossad chief, [06/13/12]

“A strike could accelerate the procurement of the bomb. … We would provide them with the legitimacy to achieve nuclear capabilities for military purposes.” — Dagan, [05/30/12]

“The commotion surrounding the immediate alternative of an attack may lead the Iranians into a reality in which they are [pushed over the edge] and try to obtain nuclear capabilities as quickly as possible instead of trading rather carefully while taking the international community’s demands into consideration.” — Dagan, [12/19/12]

“Attacking Iran will encourage them to develop a bomb all the faster.” — Yuval Diskin, former head of Shin Bet, [04/27/12]

“Iran would possibly accelerate its nuclear weapons program after a future Israeli military strike.” — Former IDF Intelligence head Shlomo Gazit, as reported by the Jerusalem Post, [05/02/12]

An air strike “would give Iran an additional pretext to build a nuclear bomb.” — Haim Ramon, former Vice Prime Minister of Israel, [11/09/11]

“An attack is not a single strike and once it happens we are in a whole other world. … Iran will pull out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei and [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad will reunite and it will be clear that they need a bomb now so that we cannot attack them again.” — Maj.-Gen. (res.) Aharon Ze’evi Farkash, former head of Israeli Military Intelligence, [8/03/12]


Q: There’s no military attack that can halt the Iranian nuclear project. It could only delay it.
DAGAN: Yes, I agree. — Meir Dagan, former Mossad chief, [03/11/12]

“[Former Israeli Defense Forcesintelligence head Shlomo Gazit] said he agreed with Diskin that an Israeli attack would not destroy the program, and could even accelerate it, while enabling Iran to legitimize its efforts diplomatically.” — The Jerusalem Post, [05/03/13]


“An attack on Iran could affect not only Israel, but the entire region for 100 years.” — Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy, [11/04/11]

“We are going to ignite, at least from my point of view, a regional war. And wars, you know how they start. You never know how you are ending it.” — Meir Dagan, former Mossad chief, [03/11/12]


“In case of an attack, political pressure on the regime will disappear.” — Meir Dagan, former Mossad chief [06/13/12]


There are “extreme options that are currently on the table: ‘a[n Iranian] bomb or a [Western or Israeli] bombardment,’ … If the negotiations fail, the argument that all other options have been exhausted will be stronger, and there’s no way to prevent Iran’s nuclearization except a military strike.” — Former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, [10/26/12]

Israel can contribute to the efforts to solve the Iranian issue [via diplomacy] by reaching an understanding with the United States on the time frame for direct negotiations between Washington and Tehran.” — Yoel Guzansky, a former Iran adviser for the Israeli Prime Minister, and Oded Eran, a former Israeli ambassador to the European Union [11/27/2012]


“The answer is yes [Iran’s leaders are rational]. Not exactly our rational, but think that he is rational. … [T]hey are considering all the implications of their action.” — Meir Dagan, former Mossad chief, [03/08/12]

I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people. But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous.” — IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, [04/25/12]


I don’t think there is an existential threat.” — Meir Dagan, former Mossad chief, [02/08/12]

“What is the significance of the term existential threat? Does Iran pose a threat to Israel? Absolutely. But if one said a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands was an existential threat, that would mean that we would have to close up shop and go home. That’s not the situation. The term existential threat is used too freely.” — Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, [12/27/11]

While Iran should be prevented from becoming a nuclear power, its capabilities are still “far from posing an existential threat to Israel.” — Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy, [11/04/12]


“[Iran] is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn’t yet decided whether to go the extra mile.” — IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, [04/25/12]

“Israel has come around to the U.S. view that no final decision to build a bomb has been made by Iran.” — Associated Press, [03/18/12]