IDF Intel chief: ‘Iran considering harming World Cup in Qatar’

“As the pressure on Iran increases, including internal pressure, the Iranian response is much more aggressive, so we should expect much more aggressive responses in the region and in the world,” Military Intelligence chief Aharon Haliva said.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Speaking with his predecessor Monday at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva, head of the Intelligence Division in the IDF, told his predecessor that Iran may “interfere” with the World Cup games in Qatar, Hebrew-language Ynet reported.

Referring to the attack carried out by Iran last week on an oil tanker associated with Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, Haliva told Tamir Hyman that “the Iranians are also considering hitting the World Cup in Qatar – and the only thing stopping them is how the Qataris will react.”

According to Haliva, “Iran is under pressure,” which is followed by aggressive responses. I think this trend will continue.”

The reason for the pressure, he explains, is the difficult economic situation in Iran and the widespread protests against the regime.

“These protests have moved into the lines of civil unrest,” Haliva said. “The damage to government institutions, government symbols, the number of dead – this worries the government.”

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Nevertheless, Haliva does not see an immediate existential danger to the Islamic regime, however, the more the internal and external pressures increase, the more aggressive the regime’s response becomes, he said.

As for the games in Qatar, he quipped, “Iran is all over the field and under the field.”

Indeed, “in London, they are preparing for an Iranian attack and they know what they are talking about. The U.S .is preparing for Iranian terrorism. I’m not convinced that the world still understands the power that the Iranians bring on a global level.”

Regarding Iran’s nuclear progress, Haliva said, “The Iranians are moving forward with the program without provoking the wrath of the international community. Only when Iran violates human and civil rights, sells hundreds of drones to Russia, and when the Iranian foreign minister lies about it and denies that there were any deals – only then does the world raise its head.

“This is surprising – we are four and a half years after the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and the world is doing nothing about the Iranian violations.”

‘Only country that acts is Israel’

According to Haliva, difficult decisions must be made. “There is the potential to open a completely different dialogue, to reach an improved and different agreement. You can start talking about using force against Iran, or about an agreement in completely different terms than what was discussed…

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“The only country that acts against Iranian aggression is Israel. What will the political echelon here decide in the face of the recommendations? It is not my job to assess. Israel acts alone and makes decisions related to its national security. There is American backing, not actual support – we’ll call it the silence of consent. Washington understands that Tehran is a threat to the entire world order. If we have to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities by kinetic means, I would be happy if the U.S. would be on our side.”

‘Hezbollah is the pivot’

Furthermore, “Hezbollah and Nasrallah have long been not merely proxies of Iran, but a central part of its decision-making…Hezbollah is the pivot. When we were preparing in recent months for the campaign around the maritime border agreement, the Iranians were busy accelerating the transfer of funds to Hezbollah.”

Regarding the Islamic Republic’s support for Russia against the background of the war in Ukraine, Haliva said: “The Iranians will still demand things from Moscow for their support – from intelligence, through military intelligence, to systems. I can expect the requirements to be many. In the delicate management of the region, I hope that the Russians, also as a result of Israel’s policy, will know how to balance part of the reward they will give to the Iranians.

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“In the end, Russia has its own interests, which sometimes do not coincide with Iranian interests. I do not recognize at this point in time an interference with Israel’s freedom of action in the face of the urgent operational need in the northern arena,” he said, apparently referring to the Iranian bases in Syria that the IDF has been attacking, with success.

Haliva’s comments come a day after IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi arrived in the United States for a five-day visit that will focus on Iran’s nuclear program and regional expansionism, and after the 35-nation board of governors of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency passed a resolution ordering Tehran to cooperate immediately with an investigation into uranium traces discovered at three undeclared sites.

JNS contributed to this report.