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Trump: Israel ‘big part’ of Soleimani hit, backed out at last moment

Israel pulled out because of concerns about potential retaliation against senior Israeli officials, according to Israeli media.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a bilateral meeting at the White House on Jan. 27, 2020. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a bilateral meeting at the White House on Jan. 27, 2020. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.

Former U.S. president and leading 2024 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Sunday that Israel played a significant role in planning the 2020 assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, but stopped short of actually participating in the hit.

“Israel was a part of it. Bibi [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] was a big part of it. And we had everything planned because what he [Soleimani] has done is terrible. What he did to us is terrible. He killed so many of our soldiers. He killed so many people. He’s the father of the roadside bomb,” Trump told American journalist Maria Bartiromo on her Fox News show “Sunday Morning Futures.”

Trump also claimed however that Israel was supposed to take part in the Soleimani strike with the United States, but backed out shortly before the attack.

“When we took out Soleimani, Israel was supposed to do it with us. Two days before the takeout, they said, ‘We can’t do it. We can’t do it.’ I said, ‘What?’ Then I had a certain general, who was great, I said, ‘Should we do it ourselves?’ He said, ‘We can sir, it’s up to you.’ I said, ‘We’ll do it.'”

A political source confirmed to the Ynet news site that Israel was involved in planning the assassination but pulled out because of concerns about potential retaliation against senior Israeli officials.

“For a long time, Mossad and the Military Intelligence Directorate had been preparing the operation to eliminate Soleimani. However, at the moment of truth, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got cold feet, fearing Iran’s retaliation against high-ranking Israelis,” the source said. ”Subsequently, Trump, advised by his defense secretary, decided to proceed, and so it was.”

In the interview, Trump also claimed that Tehran called him before retaliating to allow for U.S. forces to prepare for the response.

Iran retaliated two days later by firing 12 ballistic missiles at Ain al-Asad Air Base in Iraq’s Anbar Province, which housed U.S. troops, wounding at least 110 service members in the largest ballistic missile attack ever against American forces.

The IRGC has vowed that it will continue to seek vengeance for Soleimani’s death.

Tehran claimed in December that the Hamas massacre of 1,200 people on Oct. 7 in southern Israel was a response to the Soleimani killing.

“The Al-Aqsa Flood was one of the acts of revenge for the assassination of General Soleimani by the U.S. and the Zionists,” IRGC spokesman Brig. Gen. Ramezan Sharif told Iran’s state-run ISNA news agency, using Hamas’s name for the Oct. 7 cross-border attacks.

Soleimani, who was killed in a vehicle leaving Baghdad Airport, was close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and played a strategic role in Iran’s entrenchment efforts throughout the Middle East. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi paramilitary commander backed by Tehran, was also killed in the 2020 strike in Baghdad.

Trump also said that the recent Iranian-backed attack on an American base in Jordan that killed three servicemen and women and wounded more than 40 others would not have happened if he was president.

“It would have never happened with me. I had Iran in check.”

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