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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride