F-35 aircraft
F-35 aircraftAharon Krohn/Flash90

The IDF has begun preparing for a general war against Iran, including but not limited to an attack on that country's nuclear facilities, Israel Hayom reported.

The new operational plans include the option of an "exchange of blows" - both direct and indirect - of varying strengths between the two countries.

According to the report, Israel is only partially prepared for a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, after the preparations for a strike were abandoned in the previous decade following the signing of the "Iran deal." The plans were renewed and accelerated this year, but it will take another 3-5 years until they are properly ready.

In the meantime, Israel is developing abilities which will expand the range of options it has against Iran, and intends to dramatically increase the scope of its arsenal of defensive and offensive weapons, in preparation for a future conflict with Iran.

Preparations for a possible future strike on Iran are divided into three main stages: the stage prior to the attack, the attack itself, and what happens after the attack. The initial stage requires the IDF to prepare not only operations plans but also to train, using models and preparations for a possible escalation on all fronts.

At the same time, Israel will need to take accelerated diplomatic action in order to create international legitimacy for the attack. Israel will do this without revealing its intentions to attack, other than to the US, which will be a complete partner in the process.

A senior official told Israel Hayom that "the coordination with the Americans is strategic, it's at the heart of our interests. We can use them not infrequently during the attack itself - for instance, their intelligence or radar covering Iraq and the Gulf region, and even for rescue abilities - and obviously to help with military protection for us after the attack."

Israel will also need to decide on its red lines, and following which violations it will attack Iran. The attack itself may be limited or widescale, and include only the enrichment facilities at Fordow and Natanz, other facilities connected to Iran's nuclear program, and even sites belonging to the Revolutionary Guard. It is likely that in any scenario, Israel will first attack Iran's air defense system, in order to reduce the risk to IAF aircraft.

A former senior official told Israel Hayom that Israel must ensure ahead of time that a strike will cause a significant delay in Iran's nuclear program.

"If we attack and we delay Iran's nuclear program by a year or two, it's as if we didn't do anything. We need to be sure that we will cause significant damage and cause a delay of many years," he said.

As part of the preparations for attack, Israel will also prepare itself for "the day after." Experts are unanimous in their opinion that Iran will respond, but differ in their opinions on how strong that response might be. Some experts believe that Iran will use all its abilities and connections to launch an extensive counter-attack, but others believe that the reaction will be minor and mostly by Hezbollah, which is the greatest threat to Israel in Iran's arsenal.

Experts do agree, however, that immediately after it is hit, Iran will attempt to rehabilitate its nuclear program, claiming that from the moment it was attacked by a nuclear power (Israel), it earned the right to possess nuclear weapons of its own in order to protect itself from similar attacks in the future.