Israel's military leaders warn against Iran attack

Former Israeli defence chief says that a strike on Iran would plunge the Middle East into war

Tel Aviv, Jerusalem

Almost the entire senior hierarchy of Israel's military and security establishment is worried about a premature attack on Iran and apprehensive about the possible repercussions, a former chief of the country's defence forces told The Independent yesterday.

Lt-Gen Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, who is close to Defence Minister Ehud Barak, said there had been little analysis of what happens the "day after" when the Tehran regime and its paramilitary allies retaliate. He warned that an assault may lead to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad benefiting from popular anger against foreign aggression.

General Lipkin-Shahak stressed that Iran with a nuclear arsenal would be a hugely destabilising factor in the region. But, he said: "It is quite clear that much if not all of the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] leadership do not support military action at this point."

The risks of military action underlined by the highly decorated former commander show the apparent divisions within the establishment over the best way to combat Iran's nuclear programme. The Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Mr Barak are reported to be veering towards military action while fellow ministers as well as the defence and intelligence communities have reservations about this path.

The General's comments follow the public intervention in the Iran debate by a former head of Mossad, Israel's intelligence service. Meir Dagan said that following such a course of action would plunge the region into war with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

General Lipkin-Shahak stressed he had no idea what decision the security cabinet would reach. He said the current Chief of General Staff (CGS), Lt-Gen Benny Gantz, and Mr Dagan's successor at Mossad, Tamir Pardo, would offer advice. "We have to remember that the CGS and the head of Mossad are there to serve the State of Israel, they are not party political. They will no doubt offer judgement and advice on what is best for Israel," he said. "In the past the advice of the head of the IDF and the head of Mossad had led to military action being stopped."

Sanctions on Iran imposed by the EU and the US, including an oil embargo, were stronger than many people had expected, said Lt-Gen Lipkin-Shahak. "They are already having some impact on the Iranians on the street, they are worried. They may feel that it is the actions of the [Iranian] government which has created this situation. So one would think it would be worth seeing what impact the sanctions have before taking the next step."

General Lipkin-Shahak said that depending on intelligence does not always work. "Let's not forget that an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, was held for five years just five, six kilometres from our border, and despite doing our best we had not been able to free him, despite the fact we were getting lots of intelligence reports." Israel was forced to obtain the soldier's release by freeing more than 1,000 Hamas detainees.

"Even if there was 100 per cent intelligence, even if the Americans knew the exact locations of the sites, it could be very difficult to hit what is inside. The Iranians are not stupid, we should not underestimate their intelligence."

The General's comments come as Mr Barak begins interviewing candidates for the post of commander of the Air Force, the man who would be in charge of any possible air strike on Iran.

Unusually a difference has reportedly opened up between Mr Netanyahu and General Gantz, with the former promoting his own military adviser, Maj-Gen Yohanan Locker, and the latter favouring the head of the IDF's Planning Directorate, Maj-Gen Amir Eshel. Some observers suggest General Locker would be more inclined to launch a strike on Iran than General Eshel.

News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
people
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Today's Liverpool Echo back page
football
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant

£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

Year 4 Teacher required for 2 terms

£21500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Accounts Assistant - Sales Ledger, Sage Line 50 - St Albans

£20000 - £22000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and w...

EBD Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?