Bomb Iran? Why 5 top Israeli figures don't want to do it.

Gabi Ashkenazi, former military chief of staff

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    Israel's President Shimon Peres (r.) and military chief Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi (c.) watch a soldier light the menorah on the fourth eve of Hanukkah, in an army base near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, December 2009.
    Tsafrir Abayov/AP/File
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Gen. Ashkenazi (ret.) stepped down in 2011 after four years as the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff. 

Part of the troika that reportedly served as a counterweight to Netanyahu, he was the last to speak out, in late August.

"There is a feeling that someone can just [take] a suitcase off the shelf and there will be an Iranian bomb,” he said, according to Israel's Makor Rishon newspaper and Israel National News. “We are still not there."

But he added, "It appears that we are on the way there."

Instead of an Israeli strike, however, the former general argued for the “covert war” strategy that the US and Israel have been pursuing in addition to sanctions against Iran.

"We need to employ a combination of strategies: a clandestine campaign; diplomatic, political and economic sanctions, and maintenance of a credible and realistic military option," Ashkenazi said. "I hope that this combination will prevent Iran from reaching a bomb."

"I think that today, too, a secret campaign should be waged. Anything that is below the level of war, the level of a strike. I keep reading in the papers about worms or scientists – and I don't know anything about that – but we should keep on doing it. True, it only buys us time, but it is important."

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