TEL AVIV – The coming month of May could be the most dangerous since before the 1967 Six Day War, a former IDF intelligence chief said.
“When I look at the month of May, I say there wasn’t a month of May so dangerous since 1967,” Amos Yadlin said in an interview with Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
During May 1967, a month before the defensive war broke out, tensions escalated as Egypt expelled UN peacekeepers from the Sinai Peninsula. At the same time Egypt’s army, together with those of Jordan and Syria, advanced towards the Jewish state.
In June, Israel launched a preemptive attack.
“In the last Independence Day ceremonies I was reminded of the independence ceremonies of ’67,” Yadlin said according to a translation of his remarks by The Algemeiner. “The Jerusalem parade, everyone was satisfied, but they didn’t pay attention to the beginning of developments that snowballed into the Six Day War.”
Yadlin took Israel’s leadership to task for flaunting the country’s military might, saying Jerusalem made the same mistake in 1973 and that ended with tragedy and the Yom Kippur War.
“When the heads of state talk about Israel as a superpower, it also reminds me of the noises from ’73,” Yadlin stated. “So let’s be more modest, more careful, and understand where we’re going.”
Israel was blindsided when Egypt and Syria attacked the country on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year and a fast day. The IDF just scraped out a victory but was hit with many casualties.
Yadlin referred to recent strikes carried out by the IAF on Iranian bases in Syria, including, most recently, in February after the incursion of an explosives-laden drone into Israeli airspace. Last week, another Iranian drone command center was hit and Iran, Russia, Syria and several U.S. officials said Israel was responsible for the raid. The Jewish state has yet to confirm that.
Jerusalem has made it clear that it will stop Iran from entrenching itself militarily on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
Yadlin rebuffed recent claims made by the vice commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hossein Salami, in which he said his country’s missiles could annihilate Israel’s airforce, “so the only thing we can all do is escape into the sea,” said Yadlin. “From a military point of view he can’t threaten the existence of the State of Israel, he can’t even harm the air force.”
Despite this, Yadlin said, Israel should act with caution and it was incumbent on the cabinet to make intelligent decisions regarding strikes on Iranian targets in Syria.
“A preventive strike doesn’t absolutely have to involve the danger of a full-scale confrontation,” he said, “and I hope the people who sit in the cabinet room and the intelligence and security services know how to differentiate between when to go for the head of the Iranian snake in places that we can’t tolerate Iranian entrenchment in Syria, and on the other hand expelling every last Iranian from Syria. That’s an unrealistic and incorrect goal.”
Yadlin also pointed to other factors that may contribute to rising tensions next month, including an Iranian response or the possibility that President Donald Trump withdraws from the nuclear deal signed by world powers.
Another contributing factor is the inauguration of the U.S. embassy at its new location in Jerusalem, a move that sparked outrage and violent riots from Palestinians and the wider Arab world.
May also marks the culmination of the ongoing “March of Return” by the Palestinians. The protest, in which 19 Palestinians have died, including at least ten members of Gaza-based terror groups, is set to end on the Palestinians’ “Nakba Day” – Arabic for catastrophe – on May 15, which marks the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
“All these things together enter the month of May,” Yadlin said. “The Israel-Iran issue and the Iranian retaliation, Trump’s decision on the agreement with Iran, and also the Palestinians’ ‘March of Return’ on May 15.”