Haviv Rettig Gur
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October looms large on Iran

The prospect of an Israeli strike ahead of the US election is becoming ever more palpable

This past week both former Mossad head Ephraim Halevy and former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate Maj.-Gen. (res.) Aharon Zeevi Farkash publicly warned that Israel seems to be planning to strike Iran’s nuclear program by October:

“It seems to me,” said Aharon Zeevi Farkash, former head of Military Intelligence in the IDF, “that [an Israeli attack] could come in the near future…that is, weeks or a couple of months.”


Farkash was speaking a day after Israel’s veteran former Mossad chief, Efraim Halevy, told Israel Radio that “If I were an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks.”


Asked whether an Israeli strike would lead to war, Farkash responded: “Absolutely.”


Interviewed on Israel’s Channel 2 News, he added: “The Iranians have to understand” that if they don’t halt their nuclear drive, “they will ultimately have to absorb a blow to their main military sites, from an international coalition, or from the US, or perhaps from Israel.”

October looms large as a major moment of decision for Israeli planners, for reasons ranging from the US elections to the stability of Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition to the predictable timing of the latest diplomatic failure to negotiate with the Iranian regime. I suggested all this back in May, even predicting the Coalition’s fragility in the bargain and offering several reasons why October made sense.

Two points come to mind:

1. Those who see an October strike don’t necessarily think it’s a good idea. Some do, some don’t. Farkash, for instance, is against. All we’re saying (or at least, all I’m saying) is that there is strong evidence — stronger than ever before — that this is what the planners and strategists around the prime minister are thinking.

2. Even if Israel is planning an October strike, come October the conditions may have changed. Among other factors, the final decision will have to take into account Iran’s own preparations, American political sensitivities on the eve of an election, and strong resistance in the Israeli security establishment — which will likely get stronger as the probability of an attack grows.

About the Author
Haviv Rettig Gur is The Times of Israel's senior analyst.