Lieberman Calls to Gag the 'Middle Eastern Intelligence Official' Claiming Israeli Attacks in Iran

Former defense minister turned opposition figure says everyone knows the identity of the New York Times source who said Israel planted a bomb at an Iranian nuclear site

Haaretz
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A man looks at electronic board showing stock prices, following the outbreak of the coronavirus , at Tehran Stock Exchange in Tehran, Iran, May 12, 2020.
A man looks at electronic board showing stock prices, following the outbreak of the coronavirus , at Tehran Stock Exchange in Tehran, Iran, May 12, 2020.Credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY/ REUTERS
Haaretz

Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday that Prime Minister Benjmain Netanyahu should restrain an unnamed intelligence official who has been divulging Israel's attacks on Iran to the media.

In an interview on Army Radio, Lieberman said "everyone knows who that intelligence official is," but did not name the person.

He specifically invoked reports in the New York Times quoting a "Middle Eastern intelligence officer" who said Israel had planted a bomb in the Nantanz Iranian nuclear site, causing a fire that damaged uranium enrichment centrifuges.

"I would expect the prime minister to keep that senior intelligence official’s mouth shut, particularly as he has started his Likud primary election campaign… It just cannot be that that official not only explains what we did, but also what we didn’t do," said Lieberman, referring to a quote by the official that Israel was behind the attack at Nantanz but not the other mysterious episodes. In addition to the fire at Nantanz, there were also explosions at a suspected missile site, two power plants, and a chlorine gas leak at a chemical plant.

"It cannot be that he won’t be put in check," said Lieberman, calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to gag the official who is flouting Israel's policy of ambiguity in claiming attacks in Iran, Iraq and Syria.  

Lieberman served as defense minister under Netanyahu, but resigned in 2018 following disagreements with the prime minister. Since then, he has been increasingly vocal in his opposition to Netanyahu and his Likud party.

On Sunday, Netanyahu announced that he will be extending the term of Yossi Cohen, the head of Israel's Mossad spy agency.

Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, left, and Kahol Lavan Benny Gantz.
Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, left, and Kahol Lavan Benny Gantz.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Cohen has been in office since January of 2016 and is considered close to the prime minister. Among the operations that the Mossad carried out under Cohen’s leadership was the theft of Iranian documents in 2018, the assassination of Hamas drone expert Mohammed Zawahri in Tunisia, and of Hamas engineer Fadi al-Batsh.

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