Israel attempted to assassinate Soleimani in 2018: ex-military chief

Israel attempted to assassinate Soleimani in 2018: ex-military chief
3 min read
29 January, 2022
Former Israel military Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot has revealed that Israel launched an unsuccessful operation in 2018 to assassinate Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
Gadi Eisenkot also said that he was not consulted on the US withdrawal from the JCPOA [Getty]

The Israeli army launched a large-scale operation in 2018 to kill Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, but was unsuccessful, former Israel military Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot has revealed in an interview with Israeli publication Maariv.

Israel tried to kill the Iranian commander in 'Operation House of Cards’, when 100 Iranian sites in Syria were targeted, following the firing of rockets at the Golan HeightsEisenkot said.

"We decided that if he was in a command center or operations room or somewhere in the area, we would take him out. And we had approval for that. But we could not close the circle on him," Eisenkot told Maariv.

A number of Iranian targets in Syria were hit but Soleimani survived the attack. He was later killed in 2020 in a US drone strike on Baghdad

During the course of the war in Syria, Israel frequently targeted Iranian fighters in Syria, in a bid to prevent its long-time rival from establishing a permanent presence on Syria's southern border with Israel. 

Eisenkot also revealed in his interview, that the Israeli military was not informed about the US' intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. 

"Only Yossi Cohen, Ron Dermer and Benjamin Netanyahu dealt with this issue of leaving the nuclear deal. No one spoke with the security establishment," Eisenkot said. 

The former Israeli military official said that he was taken by surprise when the announcement was made, and that many of his plans were scuppered by it. 

"Then, in the middle of it all, comes the exit from the agreement. And we are surprised by the exit from it. This is a matter that we did not prepare for," he said. 

US withdrawal from nuclear deal a 'mistake'

The ex-chief described the US decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal as a "strategic mistake", adding that, although the deal was not a perfect solution, it did succeed in slowing down Iran’s nuclear progress. 

"The Iranians were in shock for a few months, they did not start enriching uranium in the first six months, only after when I was no longer chief of staff, in 2019. They had legitimacy for the violations because of the US withdrawal," he said. 

Eisenkot revealed that he never held a meeting with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about a potential US withdrawal nor was he consulted about the "Deal of the Century", which was unsuccessfully proposed by former US President Donald Trump. 

Following the end of the nuclear deal, Iran has been increasing the levels of enrichment at its nuclear facilities.

Israel has reportedly conducted a number of clandestine operations, which have targeted Iranian nuclear facilities and Iranian scientists.