A senior Israeli military intelligence official said on Monday that Iran may be staging an attack on the World Cup but may hesitate due to uncertainty about how the Qatari hosts would react.
Major General Aharon Haliva, the intelligence chief of the Israel Defense Forces, attended an Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv on Monday and spoke about the protests that have gripped the country and how they could affect the World Cup, the largest international soccer tournament. .
“Iran is considering stopping the 2022 World Cup in Qatar,” Haliva said. “However, the only thing holding you back: what will Qatar’s reaction be?”
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Protests in Iran have been ongoing since a woman named Mahsa Amini died while in the custody of the morality police in Tehran in September, in what is being called the biggest challenge to Iran’s clerical leaders since the 1979 revolution.
Amini’s death not only sparked outrage in Tehran, but protests have spread across the country.
The country’s leaders deployed troops in a Kurdish town to regain control of the town, which was taken over by protesters.
Videos on social media showed that the streets of Mahabad were lined with military vehicles and, in one incident, Iranian forces opened fire on a crowd gathered for what was supposed to be a speech by the governor.
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Haliva said that the current protests are unusual due to their length and intensity, adding that the demonstrations are changing the lines of civil unrest.
It is worrisome for Iran’s regime, especially given the existing and growing international pressure and difficult economic situation, the general said.
“As the pressure on Iran increases, the Iranian reaction to various events is more aggressive,” he said. “We should expect more aggressive actions from Iran in the region and the world.”
As Iran determines its next move, Haliva insisted that the World Cup was under threat.
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“I tell you that the Iranians are now also considering going to the World Cup in Qatar,” he said. “They fear the reaction of the Qataris. This trend will continue. Iran is under pressure and this translates into aggressive actions.”
Fox News’ Yonat Friling contributed to this report.