Mossad chief Yossi Cohen rejected Iranian claims about thwarting an assassination attempt targeting Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Qassim Soleimani, but said that it was not impossible.
“With all due respect to his bluster, he (Soleimani) hasn’t necessarily committed the mistake yet that would place him on the prestigious list of Mossad’s assassination targets,” Cohen said.
Cohen’s remarks were made during an interview with the Mishpacha newspaper.
There have been reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu views Cohen as a potential political successor. Cohen, who ends his term in 2020, said he had not yet decided whether to enter politics, but added: “I definitely see myself in the leadership of Israel in the future.”
Cohen, 57, a former national security adviser under Netanyahu, became Mossad chief in 2016, succeeding Tamir Pardo.
Boasting about the policy of assassinations, Cohen denied that it had retreated recently. When asked about whether the assassination of the Palestinian scientist, Fadi al-Batsh, in Malaysia last April was carried out by Mossad, Cohen said: “Don't expect us to publish the list of assassinations.”
He added that his agency could also assassinate Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, but that this was "not the right question." Nasrallah, Cohen remarked, "knows we have the option of eliminating him."
The official revealed that there was “one target that we eliminate without hesitation,” and that was officials from the Palestinian Hamas movement operating abroad.
“From local agents to those who manage acquisitions of weapons pointed toward Israel,” Cohen explained.
"There are more than a few assassinations," he noted, but added that “Israel's enemy had changed tactics” and was no longer "quick to attribute assassination to us, for its own reasons."
Commenting on the regional tensions, Cohen said that Israel is not interested in a conflict with Tehran, but rather in preventing it from developing a nuclear strike capacity.
“Israel is not interested in conflict with Iran… Israel has but one interest: to prevent any option of Iran achieving military nuclear capability. We don’t want the regime to collapse, we don’t want revenge against nuclear scientists or to bomb bases in Tehran. In the end Israel wants to bring Iran to the table and then bring about a deal that locks away any option of military nuclear capability,” he stressed.