Israel Wanted Soleimani Dead, Too
If there is one country for which the Thursday assassination of Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani was not a lamentable moment, it is Israel. According to reporting right after the popular Iranian military leader was killed by U.S. airstrikes, Soleimani had been planning attacks on Israel, including the movement of “killer drones” to the Golan Heights ,as recently as August, “and a thwarted attempt to use them.”
According to Friday’s Jerusalem Post, Israel has charged him with funding, coaching and training “Shi’ite operatives who were supposed to carry out the drone attack on August 22.” Israel responded, according to reporting at the time, by killing two Hezbollah fighters who were working on the drone.
The Post offered a litany of reasons why Israel might have wanted Soleimani out of the picture, quoting him at length calling for Israel’s destruction.
Soleimani was outspoken on August 26 when he said that these were the “last struggles” Iran would have with Israel. It was part of rising Iranian rhetoric threatening Israel with destruction. The head of the IRGC Hossein Salami said in September that destroying Israel was no longer just a dream. Soleimani said that “these insane operations are absolutely the last struggles of the Zionist regime” in August. In the wake of those comments Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had warned Soleimani and Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah to “be careful,” on August 28.
The Post then recalls a history of Soleimani rhetoric and activities, including extensive aid and training of Hezbollah in attacks against Israel. “In 2010 the New Yorker says that he also worked with Hezbollah to strike at the US and Israel, even in attacks in Thailand, New Delhi, Lagos and Nairobi.” Soleimani was also a big booster of Hamas in the Israel-Palestinian conflict and of Islamic Jihad, the paper adds, and was responsible for rocket attacks from Syria into Israel in 2018, among other plots.
It can be safe to say that the U.S. took out one of its own nemeses yesterday but one of Israel’s too. The plots against Suleimani have been thick for years and reportedly he has escaped death several times, until now. It would not be surprising if the “intel” supplied to the Pentagon to justify this assassination on sovereign territory, a killing that could very well set off a hot war between the U.S. and Iraq, was supplied by Israel. The Pentagon said Thursday night that Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
I would suggest reading Gareth Porter’s TAC coverage of escalating tensions in the Gulf last spring and summer, as he draws some important connections from Tel Aviv and Washington during the crisis. At the time, then-National Security Advisor John Bolton was still warning that any attack on U.S. interests or “our allies” would be met with the same response. More particularly, the new deployment of assets to the Gulf in May, would “send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”
According to Reuters this morning Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is not commenting on Soleimani’s death and the country is now on heightened alert for retaliation.