Citing senior Israeli officials, Axios reported Wednesday that service members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were recently instructed to prepare for a potential US strike on Iran before US President Donald Trump is expected to leave office in January.
Officials with knowledge of the instruction explained to the outlet that the IDF was informed by the Israeli government of the change not because it had confirmed knowledge of an imminent US strike, but rather because Israeli officials felt that if such an attack unfolded, they would not have sufficient time to be fully prepared.
Unidentified senior sources further noted that they felt Trump’s presumed final months in the White House would be “a very sensitive period,” noting that preparedness measures were also linked to a possible attack by Iran against Israel either directly or through Iranian proxies in the Middle East.
Tensions between Iran and Israel have remained heated for years; however, most recently, Israeli forces carried out retaliatory strikes on Iranian targets in Syria after its troops detected roadside bombs in the Golan Heights. Israeli officials claimed that the bombs were planted by members of the Syrian Armed Forces and the Iranian Quds Force, and that the act was a violation of Israel’s sovereignty.
Earlier this month, H.R. McMaster, a retired US Army lieutenant general who previously served as a national security adviser in the Trump administration, also hinted that Israel could itself opt to launch a strike on Iran in the event that Trump leaves office.
The Axios report also comes over a week after the New York Times reported that Trump had considered ordering a military strike on against Iran’s main nuclear site in Natanz, where the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that the country’s uranium stockpile was 12 times larger than limits imposed under the JCPOA. The US withdrew from the accord in 2018.
The Times noted that Trump was ultimately “dissuaded” from a possible strike after senior advisers warned that a “broader conflict” could develop as a result. Although it is believed that a strike is no longer a viable option for the Trump administration, Ali Rabiei, a spokesperson for the Iranian government, stated that any action against the nation would be met with a “crushing response.”
Last week, Hossein Dehghan, an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the Associated Press that a US attack on Iran would prompt a “full-fledged war” in the region. He added, “Definitely, the United States, the region and the world cannot stand such a comprehensive crisis.”