Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Former Mossad Director (2011-2016) Tamir Pardo seen here in 2016

Former Mossad Director (2011-2016) Tamir Pardo at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Institute of Politics John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on May 3, 2016 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Amid New Threat of War, Former Mossad Chief Admits Israel Had 2011 Plan to Attack Iran

"When [Netanyahu] tells you to start the countdown process, you know that he isn't playing games with you," says Tamir Pardo

Andrea Germanos

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."  


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

With Election Days Away, Bernie Sanders Headlines Get-Out-the-Vote Rally for Nina Turner

In his keynote speech, Sanders said corporate interests are pulling out all the stops to defeat Turner because "they know that when she is elected, she is going to stand up and take them on in the fight for justice."

Jake Johnson ·


Bush, Pressley, and Omar Sleep Outside Capitol to Demand Extension of Eviction Moratorium

Rep. Cori Bush, who was formerly unhoused, slammed her Democratic colleagues who "chose to go on vacation early today rather than staying to vote to keep people in their homes."

Jake Johnson ·


As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

The move comes after Democratic leadership in the House blocked an amendment to roll back limits on how much money people in the United States can send to family on the island nation.

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressives Issue Dire Warning as House Bill to Extend Eviction Moratorium Dies

"If Congress does not act now, the fallout of the eviction crisis will undoubtedly set us backwards as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravish our communities, needlessly contributing to more death and destruction."

Brett Wilkins ·


Citing Donziger Case, Dems Raise Alarm About Use of Private Prosecutors in Federal Court

Private prosecutions of criminal contempt charges, said a pair of senators, "are highly unusual and can raise concerning questions of fundamental fairness in our criminal justice system."

Jessica Corbett ·