Israel Hoping to Start a War With Iran Before US Elections

July 17th, 2020 - by Jason Ditz / & Mitch Prothero / Business Insider

Fearing Trump’s defeat, Israel accused of hair-raising attacks.

Sabotage Meant to Provoke an Iranian Reaction

Jason Ditz /

(July 16, 2020) — Recent rounds of sabotage attacks against Iranian targets have been consistently blamed on Israel. It’s not just Israel being Israel, according to some officials familiar with the situation, but rather, Israel trying to start a war while Trump is still in power.

Israel sees war as a tougher sell if Biden gets elected, while Trump would be easier, especially ahead of the vote. EU officials were reportedly concerned Israel would try to provoke something soon. Israeli officials refuse to comment on specific sabotage operations.

Israeli officials concede it is “common knowledge” they are behind some of the Iran attacks, but they don’t want to specify which ones when there are so many candidates. Officials also say their policy on Iran is clear, without confirming or denying trying to suck the US into a war.

Trump’s own administration has some officials very keen on provoking fights with Iran, but so far Trump has resisted launching a war. It’s not clear, with his “most pro-Israel ever” label on the line, he could resist joining an Israeli war.

Israel has been keen on a war with Iran for decades, and is always trying to pick a good time to sucker the US into the conflict. While Iran focuses on defensive preparedness, it’s likely they’ll be advised by allies to try to resist any reaction to the provocations through November hoping that as this window closes, Israel will dial back attacks.

A satellite image of the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center building on July 4, 2020, two days after an explosion.

Israel Keeps Blowing Up Military Targets in Iran, Hoping to Force a Confrontation before Trump Can Be Voted Out in November, Sources Say

Mitch Prothero / Business Insider

  • Iran has suffered a series of bombings and fires at military facilities in recent weeks, including at major missile-production and nuclear facilities.
  • This is part of a wider campaign to damage Iran or even pressure it into military confrontation before the November election, when President Donald Trump could be voted out, sources told Insider.
  • A former Israeli defense official told Insider it was common knowledge that at least some of the latest attacks in Iran were done by Israeli intelligence.
  • An EU official also told Insider that they feared Israel was planning to provoke Iran into military confrontation “while Trump remains in office.”
  • Israel would not be able to engage in such high-pressure operations if Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, were in office, the EU official added.

(July 15, 2020) — Israel is involved in an extended campaign to pressure or damage Iran before President Donald Trump can be voted out of office in the November election, a former Israeli defense official and a current European Union intelligence official told Insider.

Iran has seen weekly incidents, including explosions at a missile-production facility on June 22; the Natanz nuclear facility, Iran’s largest uranium-enrichment center, on July 2; and an important shipyard in the port city of Bushehr on Wednesday.

These attacks have put the country on edge, with nearly daily reports of fires, explosions, and other mishaps treated as potential foreign sabotage.

A Middle Eastern official told The New York Times earlier this month that Israel’s intelligence services were responsible for the nuclear-facility explosion. Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said at a press conference on July 5 that in regard to Iran, “we take actions that are better left unsaid.”

Iranian officials said most of the reported incidents were normal accidents but that in a handful of cases, enemy saboteurs were suspected.

A former Israeli defense official told Insider it was common knowledge in Israeli intelligence circles that at least some of the events in Iran over the past month were the work of Israeli intelligence operations.

“I don’t know which ones exactly and wouldn’t tell you anyway because the entire point is for the Iranians to feel considerable stress trying to decide what might have been our work,” they said.

The former official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fears of repercussion, but their identity is known to Insider.

The Israeli government’s ongoing policy on Iran is clear, the former official added.

“It’s been decided to follow the Trump administration’s lead of exerting ‘maximum pressure’ on the Iranians,” they said, referencing the US’s economic-sanctions policy directed toward Iran.

‘Maximum Pressure, Minimal Strategy’

The attacks appear to be part of a campaign of “maximum pressure, minimal strategy,” said the EU intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they cannot be named discussing active intelligence matters. Their identity is known to Insider.

The source said Iran could be considering a rash response after exhibiting relative patience in the wake of the January assassination of top commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike.

“It’s one thing to ask hard-liners to take the long view on an incident like Soleimani in light of the worldwide COVID crisis and a host of other factors,” the official told Insider, referring to the shift in global attention to the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s another thing to conduct a rapid series of operations without a strategy, and I fear the Israeli plan here is to provoke an Iranian response that can turn into a military escalation while Trump remains in office.”

‘Less Appetite for Secret Missions … Under a Biden Administration’

With a broad belief among America’s allies that Trump is unlikely to win reelection, Israel’s apparent shift in tactics toward high-pressure “kinetic” operations seem to reflect a belief that under a Biden administration, there would be a move to save the 2015 nuclear deal that had been scuttled by Trump.

“There would be a lot less appetite for adventures and secret missions to blow up nuclear facilities under a Biden administration,” said the EU official.

When they were asked how much American allies would use the outcomes of the 2020 presidential election in making policy determinations, the official was blunt.

“There’s a reason we all follow your elections and watch CNN,” the official said.

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