Former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon said during a speech to the Hudson Institute in Washington that Israel definitely has a military option against Iran, which must not be ruled out. He added that the use of such an option could significantly damage Iran's nuclear program and set it back by a number of years.
Yaalon's comments were quoted by Channel 1 on Thursday night. According to the former chief of staff, Iran is expected to respond to an Israeli attack with Shihab missiles, as well as missiles from Lebanon, and Qassam rockets from the territories.
Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem reacted furiously to the comments, saying it was "simply madness."
"Without addressing the contents of the statements, this is national irresponsibility. Even as a chief of staff he spoke too much, and when he is released he doesn't stop," said a source.
The Hudson Institute is thought to be associated to right-wing circles in the American government.
The former chief of staff spoke publicly two days ago on Israeli readiness against the Iranian nuclear threat in front of an audience of dozens.
He emphasized that the world must isolate Iran economically and defensively. Yaalon did not speak about the possibility that Israel would attack Iran alone, but rather with American and European air forces.
"There will be a need to attack a few dozen sites. The air forces of Israel, the United States, and Europe can carry this out," said Yaalon.
He added that Iran "would have nuclear technology within a year and a half, and will have the bomb within 3 – 5 years."
"Israel has the ability to disrupt the Iranian air defense system. Israel can strike Iran through a number of ways, not only though an aerial attack. Israel has additional abilities," he added, saying that "the Iranian nuclear project includes a large number of sites."
"The Israeli strike can be precise, like a targeted assassination. Just as we succeed in striking a lone terrorist, we can also strike a nuclear site without causing major damage to the environment and harming innocents," he said.