In a simulation war game featuring Israelis in senior positions, Israel loses 10 fighter jets in a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities and manages to set back the Iranian nuclear program by seven years. An angry President Barack Obama takes no steps against Israel but also refuses to intervene on its side.
In the war game, conducted by Makor Rishon newspaper, the strike takes place on October 16, 2012, just three weeks before the U.S. election.
The simulation was carried out with the participation of former Government Secretary Yisrael Maimon as a member of the "Octet" of trusted ministers and Home Front Minister; Iran expert Dr. Eldad Pardo as the Iranian regime; Maj. Gen. (ret.) Eitan Ben Eliyahu as a senior member of the Octet; Begin-Sadat Center Chairman Prof. Efraim Inbar as the Prime Minister; Dr. Mordechai Kedar as "the Palestinians," Hizbullah and the Arab countries; journalist Amit Segal as Israeli and world press; journalist Ofer Shelach as Preient Barack Obama and Makor Rishon journalist Amnon Lord as game administrator.
According to the game's premise, on October 14 and 15, four independent and reliable Mossad intelligence sources indicate that Iran has begun transferring its strategic nuclear equipment to underground sites in Qom. Military Intelligence, meanwhile, determines that Iran was ready to enrich weapons-grade uranium.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lulls the press into complacency by maintaining a seemingly regular schedule in Jerusalem. In the pre-dawn hours of October 16, the IDF launches Operation Yahalom ("Diamond"). The nuclear sites at Natanz and Arak are bombed, as are several other nuclear plants and research centers. Ten IAF jets are shot down.
President Obama receives word of the strike when he is speaking to 350 rabbis in Florida. He convenes a consultation and says that Israel's "excuse" for bombing is "irrelevant" because while Iran's nuclear facilities may become immune to an Israeli attack by moving underground, they will not become immune to a U.S. attack.
The timing of the strike "basically amounts to an intervention in the elections," Obama adds. "The attack will have immediate repercussions influencing the election considerations of voters here, such as the expected rise in the price of oil. Israel could have waited until after the elecions."
In the simulation, the formal White House announcement calls on Israel to cease hostilities but does not place sanctions on it or threaten it. On the other hand, it offers no assistance. "Israel is responsible for its own fate," it says. "It went against our wishes, and therefore we do not offer it a military umbrella of protection against military responses by Iran or its proxies."
Iran sends 1,500 tanks toward the border with Iraq and instructs Hizbullah to fire missiles at Israel. It also launches a series of large scale terror actions and fires missiles from Lebanon and from its own territory at hi-tech targets in Herzliya, suceeding in destroying Intel's headquarters. A suicide bomber kills a large number of cadets in the IDF's hi-tech Talpiyot program. Low-level radiation is released in Tel Aviv by a "dirty bomb."
In the war game, Israeli media shows surprising solidarity and unity on the day of the attack, initially sparing the government from criticism. Republican candidate Mitt Romney calls upon Obama to give Israel his backing "immediately." Obama, meanwhile, threatens an Israeli minister who speaks with him on the phone: "I may still be president on November 7. This will have a price, as far as you are concerned. I will not elaborate right now, but you should take this into consideration."
Iran decides to try and drive a wedge between Israel and the U.S.. It therefore tells the U.S. it will supply it with as much oil as it needs, in the hope of helping Obama get reelected. In late October, its agents blow up a car bomb in Tel Aviv and fire a missile at an El Al jet from a ship in the Mediterranean, killing 300 people.
Meanwhile, intelligence indicates that Iran's nuclear program has been set back 7 years by the Israeli strikes. With U.S. elections days away, Obama decides that "enough is enough" and begins to threaten Iran with a U.S. attack if it does not cease its hostilities against Israel.
Whether real life will be anything like the simulation by Makor Rishon remains to be seen.