Israel's former defense minister Ehud Barak has said that three separate planned attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities were blocked in recent years. The attacks were allegedly blocked by senior ministers.
In an interview broadcast on the privately run Channel 2 television station, Barak said that plans drawn up between 2009 and 2010 which had been approved by both himself and President Benjamin Netanyahu were rejected by military chief Gabi Ashkenazi.
The attacks were also rejected by two ministers Moshe Yaalon and Yuval Steinitz which left Netyanhu without the necessary majority to proceed.
Yaalon, the current defense minister, held the strategic affairs portfolio at the time, while Steinitz, who is now infrastructure and energy minister, was finance minister.
Barak who served as Israel's defense minister between 2009 and 2013, said an opportunity to attack Iran in 2012 was also shelved as it would have coincided with large joint military exercises with the US.
"[It] was likely to embarrass Washington and give the impression the Americans were directly involved in the attack," Barak said.
Israel rejects nuclear deal
Reports of the prevented attacks over the weekend came as Israel continues to lobby against the nuclear deal struck between Iran and world powers last month.
Under the agreement, sanctions imposed by the US, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in exchange for Iran agreeing to long-term curbs on its nuclear program.
Netanyahu and a large majority of Israeli politicians argue, however, that the deal is not strict enough to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons which they could use against Israel.
Tehran has called for the destruction of Israel - which they do not recognize - on several occasions but insists that its nuclear program is for domestic purposes and not to create nuclear weapons.
ksb/bw (AFP, AP)