JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister ordered the military to go on high alert for a looming attack on Iran’s nuclear program two years ago, but backed off following strong objections from senior security officials, a respected Israeli news program reported Monday.
The report exposed a deep rift between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top security officials over the wisdom of attacking Iran but also indicated that Israel was much closer to carrying out a strike at that time than was previously known.
Channel 2 TV’s flagship investigative program “Uvda,” or “Fact,” reported that toward the end of a meeting in 2010 Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, ordered Israel’s military chief and director of the Mossad espionage agency to put the country on “P Plus” status — code for pre-attack mode on Iran.
The report said the officials were shocked. Then-military chief Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi warned that Israel’s enemies would notice the measure, which might touch off a war. “This is not something you do if you are not sure you will ultimately want to carry it out,” he was quoted by unidentified close associates as saying. “This accordion produces music when you play with it.”