Mr Barak has disputed this version of events. In his interview with the Channel 2 team, he claims the strike was called off not because of top-level military opposition but because of a failure on the part of Israel’s armed forces, who were not adequately prepared.

“A chief of staff must create the operational capacity. He must provide his professional recommendation on whether or not to enact a given order, and we must even take this opinion into account. But we can also proceed in opposition to his recommendation,” Mr Barak said.

His comments will inevitably call into question Israel’s current military readiness for a conflict with Iran. They also draw into sharp relief a deep rift between Israel’s military and political heads, particularly the personal enmity between Ehud Barak and Gabi Ashkenazi.