Israel suspects Iran intentionally dispatched a ship to dump hundreds of tons of crude oil onto its beaches, the area’s worst ecological disaster in decades, in revenge for the November assassination of the country’s top nuclear scientist, according to Israeli officials and media.
But Israeli officials tell Insider the statement from the environmental minister directly blaming Iran released Wednesday was premature as the military and intelligence services have yet to make a final determination on both Iranian culpability and the appropriate level destroying wildlife of response to what would be the most brazen act of environmental terrorism in recent history.
“That statement should have never been made,” a former Israeli intelligence official, who still consults for the government and therefore cannot be named, told Insider. “The IDF and Mossad are responsible for investigating attacks on the Israeli homeland, determining the responsibility and suggesting a course of action to respond. That process is underway and it is not the portfolio of the environmental minister to start wars with Iran.”
For the past two weeks, tons of crude oil have washed ashore on Israel and Lebanon’s beaches destroying wildlife and causing ecological damage that could take years to restore, according to environmental experts. But after the minister directly accused Iran of a complex operation to drop the oil offshore, the issue took on a new dimension as fears in Washington and Europe rose over the possibility of an Israeli response.
When pressed on whether Israeli military and intelligence services suspect an Iranian operation as described by the minister – who said a Libya-flagged ship sailed from Iran to Israel and dumped the oil offshore before stopping in Syria and returning to Iran – the former official conceded that was the case.
“Well yes, it does look that way but there’s a process for gathering all the intelligence and evidence and synthesizing into useful information that can help decision-making,” said the official. “It’s being treated as a direct attack on Israel by a foreign enemy, the most potentially serious since 2006 [attack by Hezbollah to kidnap two Israeli soldiers]. The [prime minister’s office] was already undergoing determination about the attack by Iran on [the ship]. Strike options were already being considered on that alone.”
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SOURCE: Business Insider, Mitch Prothero