The head of the Israeli army's intelligence corps, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, took Iran to task Sunday, calling it a Shi'ite Muslim power that is splitting the region.
Referring to the 2015 agreement that Iran reached with the major world powers over its nuclear program, Halevi said: "Beyond the problems in the nuclear field and that I will not get into in detail, as a result of this agreement, since it was signed, Iran has been more daring" in supporting terrorism in the Middle East by providing arms, particularly missiles, to hostile entities in the area.
"Iran is in economic distress and suffering from major internal tensions. Some of the Iranian leadership doesn't want the dispatch of forces and the major investment far from Iran but instead wants to improve Iran on the inside. Perhaps that's the best opportunity since the agreement was signed to apply pressure on Iran to change its behavior."
Halevi spoke figuratively of Iran "dispatching a Shi'ite arrow that is dividing the Middle East." As a result, Halevi said, enlisting the involvement of the major world powers in efforts to counter Iran is not only in Israel's interest but also in that of the entire Middle East.
The military intelligence chief's words of warning come as the French and German foreign ministers are making their way to Israel in order to hold talks regarding the recent ultimatum posed by U.S. President Donald Trump on the Iran deal. Trump, who has repeatedly pointed at issues pertaining to the nuclear accord, has threatened to pull out of it by May 12 should world powers not "fix the terrible flaws of the deal."
Halevi also had words of warning for the Shi'ite group Hamas, cautioning against the terror group positioning itself in Iran's embrace, saying that "running to Iran will worsen its situation."
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Speaking at a conference sponsored by the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Halevi said Israel was maintaining "very high" capabilities on its northern border, "but it has no aggressive intensions vis-à-vis Lebanon." Commenting on the changing nature of combat, he said: "In an era of information and knowhow, the winner will be the one with more information, data in real time. Fortunately the Israeli army is very strong in these fields."
Speaking just days after Israel's disclosure of details of its 2007 aerial strike on a Syrian nuclear reactor that was under construction, a disclosure that prompted finger-pointing regarding what was seen as delayed Israeli intelligence regarding Syria's nuclear capacities at the time, Halevi had praise for the cooperation demonstrated among Israeli intelligence agencies now.
"We don’t have the privilege to work alone," he said. "I am very proud that the [army] intelligence corps' relations with counterparts at the Mossad [espionage agency] and the Shin Bet [security service] are flourishing more than ever." The real benefactors of this cooperation, he said, are the citizens of Israel.
Halevi's words were echoed Sunday by former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, who urged that Iran's negative regional influence be halted but who also claimed that an independent Israeli attack on Tehran was not a wise move. Mofaz, who also attended the conference Sunday morning, said that Trump's newly-appointed national security adviser John Bolton told him that he thought Israel should follow through on the move.
"He tried to convince me that Israel should strike Iran," the former defense chief said. "I don't think this is a wise action – not on the part of the Americans but anyone else, until this threat becomes real."