Israel appoints new home security minister amid fears over strike on Iran

The Guardian reports: A former intelligence chief has been appointed as Israel’s new minister for homeland security, as speculation about a military strike targeting Iran’s nuclear programme intensifies.

Avi Dichter, 59, who headed Israel’s internal security agency, Shin Bet, from 2000-05, will be confirmed in the new post at a special parliamentary session this week. Dichter has previously indicated a cautious approach to military action against Iran. In February, he said Israel should not act unilaterally: “Israel is not a superpower. We cannot lead the world offensive against Iran … We need to prepare, just in case nobody plans to do anything, but to lead it will be a total mistake.”

Two months ago, he said he was glad the former Mossad chief Meir Dagan had spoken out against a military strike.

Febrile speculation over whether the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and defence minister, Ehud Barak, are close to ordering military action in the coming weeks has dominated the Israeli media in recent days. In an article on Friday in Israel’s biggest-selling daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, commentators Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer wrote: “Insofar as it depends on Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, an Israeli military strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran will take place in the autumn before the US elections in November.”

Barnea later wrote that he and Shiffer had since been “bombarded with phone calls from people who asked if it was time to hide in the bomb shelters”. [Continue reading…]

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