Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak later rescinded the order due to opposition to the attack by Army Chief General Gabi Ashkenazi, and Mossad boss Meir Dagan, private television Channel 2 reported.
Dagan (now retired) rejected the measure, citing that a war on Iran would have to be approved by the 15-member security cabinet of ministers. He publicly called the notion “stupid.”
Ashkenazi also feared the ramifications of such a provocation across the Middle East and beyond.
Barak himself told Channel 2 that Ashkenazi informed Netanyahu the Israeli army was unprepared to carry out an attack on Iran.
Rebuffing Barak's charge, the Haaretz newspaper reported that Ashkenazi told his colleagues that a strike on Iran was within Israel's military capabilities, but that it would be a “strategic error.”
Nonetheless, Barak and Netanyahu have never stopped beating the war drums, repeatedly threatening to attack Iran, while Western allies have called for restraint.
Barak backtracked slightly last week, when he claimed Iran could not start producing nuclear weapons until next summer.
According to Agence-France Presse, Israel is believed to possess at least 200 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.