Oct 26, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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Israel vs. Iran: a conflict heating up

In the wake of the increasing wave of “military mishaps” harming Iran, a recent report in Israeli media highlights rising concern that the Biden administration is leaking intelligence to the Iranians blaming Israel.

Tensions between Israel and Iran are undoubtedly rising. Last week, the Saviz, an Iranian container ship long-suspected of being used as a covert Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps base in the Red Sea, was lightly damaged due to an explosion. The NY Times reported later reported that an anonymous US official claimed Israel was behind the operation. A few weeks earlier, a report in the Wall Street Journal claimed that Israel attacked  12 Iranian ships illegally transporting oil and equipment from Iran to Syria.

A report in Hebrew-language Walla News cited Israeli security officials and IDF officers as claiming that the source of these claims blaming Israel was not from within Israel. The concern in the Israeli security establishment is that such leaks can severely endanger future operations. The security sources expressed concern that the intel was leaked by the US. 

Another leak may have already taken place. On Saturday,  an electrical problem at the Natanz base, Iran’s main uranium enrichment facility, set back the country’s enrichment of uranium by several months. The electrical problem took place one day after advanced centrifuges went online, fueling rumors that the incident was a case of sabotage. Israel is already being blamed, though there are no reports that this blame is substantiated by intel leaked from Washington. 

Long history of revealing Israeli military secrets

If the source of Iranian suspicions is indeed on orders from the White House, this would simply be the Biden following in the footsteps of his former boss, Barack Obama. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine published a report that Israel was intending to use Azerbaijan as a base of operations in the event of an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Reports in the Israeli media cited the article as proof that the Obama administration leaked that information to the media in order to prevent an Israeli strike. Leaking operational intel before an Israeli airstrike would clearly have endangered Israel and no such operation took place.

Again, In 2013, the Obama administration leaked intel that confirmed it was the Israeli Air Force that struck a military base near the Syrian port city of Latakia. The airstrike eliminated a shipment of missiles en route to Hezbollah. Later reports indicate that the leak came directly from the White House. The leaked information led to increased tensions between Israel and Syria.

It may be that the tactic came from VP Biden and not President Obama. A Channel 13 report in December revealed that in 1973, then-freshman Senator Biden passed on Egyptian disinformation to Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir claiming that he knew from his recent trip to Egypt that they had no intention of attacking Israel. 40 days later, Egypt sent one million soldiers in a surprise attack on Judaism’s holiest day. The Yom Kippur War became the most difficult and tragic war in Israeli history with over 2,600 killed and over 9,000 wounded.

In that meeting with Golda Meir, Biden also criticized the Israeli government for allowing Jews to settle in the areas conquered in the 1967 defensive Six-Day War, referring to Jewish occupancy as “creeping annexation.” 

If Biden is revealing secret intel in order to make Israel suffer in the world of public opinion, it is clearly intended to advance his foreign policy agenda that seeks to put American support behind Iran. Trump’s term in office ended with unprecedented peace agreements between Israel and former enemies but the Abraham Accords were based on sidestepping the Palestinians and focusing on the common threat of Iran. The Biden administration is focused on reinstating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Operations (JCPOA) with Iran and has reinstated massive aid to the Palestinians despite the absolute lack of reciprocity in either of these agreements.