Amid tumultuous political shifts that could end Benjamin Netanyahu's reign in Israel, the embattled prime minister this week installed an aggressive new chief to lead the storied Mossad secret intelligence agency — a move that some observers say already has brought results against Iran.
"This is Bibi's not-so-covert mission, to keep security on track with his vision," one Israel Defence Forces officer told Just the News, using the nickname for Netanyahu. "The new guy is right there with him."
The newly installed Mossad director David Barnea on Monday took the helm from outgoing director Yossi Cohen, who retired after five years leading the agency. One day into his new post, Barnea on Tuesday threatened more action against Iran, appearing to warn of future assassinations and attacks connected to Tehran's nuclear program.
"The Iranian [nuclear] program will continue to be met with the full power of the long arm of the Mossad," Barnea said. "We are very familiar with the different components of the nuclear program and we are very familiar personally with the officials involved in it and also with the officials who direct them.”
The threats came as mysterious disasters befell Iranian government structures.
The country's largest warship, the Kharg, caught fire this week, and plummeted into the Gulf of Oman.
"All efforts to save the vessel were unsuccessful and it sank," the Fars news agency reported.
Inside Iran, a blaze erupted following a Wednesday explosion at a state-owned oil refinery near Tehran. The fire raged for two days before authorities reported it was contained.
Officials in Iran said that the oil refinery blaze was an industrial accident, and not sabotage. Tehran previously has blamed Israel for a series of attacks on its nuclear program, and for an attack last year that killed a top nuclear scientist.
The Israeli government has not commented on the charges. The threats from Barnea, though, make clear what Mossad aims to accomplish.
"Iran is acting even at this very moment to realize its nuclear vision, under international auspices," Barnea said in his Tuesday speech. "Using the [nuclear] deal and without it, with lies and with concealment, Iran is more advanced than ever toward developing a weapon for genocidal destruction."
Mossad will respond accordingly, he said.
"We will not act according to the idea that 'majority rules' [among the nations] since that same majority will not be stuck with paying the price for their mistaken evaluation of the threat," Barnea said.
The new chief met on Thursday with Netanyahu, who is poised to be ousted soon from office, following a Sunday announcement that political opponents joined forces in a deal to unseat the embattled incumbent. The realignment marks a major shift in Israeli political leadership that was dominated for more than a decade by Netanyahu — who has secured his influence on Mossad.
Charged with intelligence, covert action, and counterterrorism, Mossad throughout the years has conducted a number of highly dramatic and effective international missions. One of its most famous operations took place in 1960, when the group joined with Israel's Shin Bet security service to capture Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, who was hiding in Brazil after World War II.