As critics warn that President Donald Trump has dramatically intensified the threat of war with Iran, the former head of Israel's spy agency disclosed in a television interview on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did, in fact, order the military to prepare a preemptive an attack on Iran back in 2011.
The interview with Tamir Pardo, who served as as Mossad chief from 2011 to 2016, aired Thursday on the Israeli investigative program "Uvda."
"When [Netanyahu] tells you to start the countdown process, you know that he isn't playing games with you," Pardo told anchor Ilana Dayan about the order for the military to prepare to attack Iran within 15 days, according to excerpts of the interview.
"If someone does that then it has two [possible] purposes: One purpose is that he really means [to attack] and the other option is that he is sending a signal, that someone out there should know," he said.
"It's possible that someone in the United States would hear about it in one form or another, and that would motivate him to do something," Pardo said.
Pardo explained that he then sought to verify the legality of such an order. "I checked with previous Mossad chiefs. I checked with legal advisers. I consulted anyone I could consult in order to understand who is authorized to give instructions about the whole issue of starting a war," he said, saying that such a strike would "certainly" amount to starting a war.
The possibility of the military action caused Pardo to consider resigning, but his objection and that of then-IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz led Netanyahu to drop the plans, Haaretz adds.
Tensions between Israel and Iran remain high with Israel once again appearing to "goad Iran into an escalation" following the Trump administration's Tel Aviv-backed decision to end the U.S. government's commitment to the Iran nuclear deal. That decision, warned one expert, would "put the United States on a path towards war with Iran and may trigger a wider regional war and nuclear arms race."