Photo Credit: Ofer Zidon / Flash 90
An F-16 fighter jet takes off from Ramat David air force base.

A special news report by Israel’s Channel 2 on Friday night revealed that Israel was ready to strike at Iran’s nuclear development facilities as far back as January 2012.

The operation was aborted because coincided with Austere Challenge 12, the largest-ever joint Israeli-U.S. joint military drill to be carried out between the two nations, according to the report.

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The U.S. was clearly opposed to the strike, and Israel was clearly going ahead with it. But the timing wasn’t right.

Details of the plans came to light when Israeli military censors allowed Channel 2 to broacast sections from the tapes of conversations with former defense and prime minister Ehud Barak, recorded for a new biography by Danny Dor and Ilan Kfir. Barak, outraged, tried to block the broadcast but failed when censors allowed the station to go ahead with the report.

“We intended to carry it out, so I went to [then-U.S. Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta and asked him if we could change the date of the exercise,” Barak said in part of the recording. “So they delayed it as much as they could… to a few days before the [U.S.] election [that November]…

“Things did not work out in the first part in 2012 and it was pushed back toward the end (of the year)…

“You demand that America respect your sovereignty and decide you want to do it (strike Iran), even if America is opposed and it is contrary to their interests… You can’t find yourself then going back on that by trying to force America to be party to (the strike) just as it comes here for a pre-planned drill. That’s how it ran into difficulties in 2012.”

On Saturday, Likud MK Yoav Kish questioned Barak’s motivation for making tapes in which he detailed unsuccessful attempts by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to win approval for the strike.

According to a report in the Hebrew-language Ma’ariv newspaper, Kish – a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee – pointed out the issue of Iran is still a matter of top security for Israel.

“I do not know what political gain Ehud Barak sought to achieve with these reports, but we would do well to cease the online chatter,” he said.

In general, Israeli leaders were reported on Sunday to be furious with the former defense minister for his lack of discretion with national security matters. Channel 2 reported on Saturday that numerous senior political and security officials also noted that Barak’s version of events was not entirely accurate.

There has been no official response by the Prime Minister’s Office to the broadcast.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

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