Israel’s Plan to Smooth Troubled Waters

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The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) general staff does not foresee smooth sailing ahead in Israel’s territorial waters as it recently approved a navy request to buy four new warships at a cost of about $750 million. If the Israeli government gives the green light for the purchase, the last hurdle, the navy hopes to acquire the 1,200 ton vessels, equipped with advanced missile and anti-missile weapons systems, before the end of the year and have them ready for operations in 2013.

Traditionally regarded as the “stepbrother” of the other two branches of the Israeli military, the navy has seen its importance increase with the discovery of massive deposits of natural gas offshore in Israel’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Israel’s two big EEZ gas discoveries are the Leviathan and Tamar fields. The gas rigs erected to exploit these fields, the navy believes, are now attractive targets for Islamist terrorist attacks, especially during wartime.

Described as the biggest natural gas discoveries worldwide in the last decade, the Israeli offshore fields will not only make Israel self-sufficient in energy but also supply the Israeli economy with billions of dollars from export sales when they come on line in the next few years. As a result, the Israeli military is determined to protect this strategically important asset, especially the rigs, from terrorist attacks, which involves the purchase and deployment of more warships.

“The size of the gas reservoirs is larger than the size of the state of Israel and has significant consequences for how we operate and how we grow,” said Admiral Ram Rothberg, head of Israel’s navy. “The main solution is to be in the area to protect the rigs and ensure that the gas reaches Israel.”

The difficulties encountered with Israel’s current source of natural gas, Egypt, indicate how vulnerable and targeted the Jewish state’s energy supply is by terrorist attack. Since Egypt’s “Arab Spring” began in early 2011, terrorists have repeatedly bombed the pipeline that carries the gas through the Sinai to Israel. And Egypt as an energy source will probably not become any securer for Israel if a Muslim Brotherhood government takes power in Cairo.

The Israeli navy views enemy missiles as the major threat to the all-important offshore gas rigs. Israel knows Hezbollah has the capability to fire such weapons as it heavily damaged an Israeli naval vessel with an anti-ship missile, killing four sailors, in the 2006 Lebanon War. And Hezbollah may not be the only Islamist terrorist group possessing such a lethal weapon. Only last February, the navy discovered on an Iranian ship six Iranian Nasr-1 radar-guided anti-ship missiles that it believes were destined for al-Jihad in Gaza. The navy is also concerned about Syria’s acquisition of Russia’s Yakhont anti-ship missile, which has a range of 300 kilometers. Since Syria is a major supplier of weaponry to Hezbollah, the Israeli military fears the Yakhont could wind up in its hands.

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  • IranAware

    I have been thinking the US should donate the Enterprise in December when decommissioned for a floating base instead of the scrap yard.. A more fitting end for a proud ship than being cut into pieces or used as target practice

  • stern

    Oh dear, don't those pesky Joos know that they're not allowed to have oil or gas of their own? It must surely belong to the umma, right? Yes? Or else the Joos must have stolen it somehow and moved it into their territorial waters. Maybe they did it when they deployed that shark off the coast of Egypt?

  • Ronald Johnston

    Israel's only defense is going to be using nuclear weapons. No conventional weapons are going to be effective against the rabid muslims!!!!

    • Drakken

      Funny, you muslims don't build anything and you can thank us of European extraction for the 21st century and everything you enjoy.

  • Sage on the Stage

    Welcome to the 21st Century version of the Barbary pirate wars; the Barbary pirates are now called terrorists.
    And Israel's Navy has always been important to the Jewish state. A visit to the Israel Navy Museum, in Haifa, convinces visitors of that immediately.

    • Raymond in DC

      Indeed, I visited that Navy Museum on my last trip and walked through that first Israeli sub. (Somehow I don't think they'll let me walk through one of their new Dolphins.)

      To appreciate how important their Navy is, read the story of the Boats of Cherbourg and how they built their first anti-ship missiles – deriving the skills from engineering text-books as they could get no assistance from anyone. They went on to take out Egyptian and Syrian naval vessels in the war of 1973.

      But there's no end to the hostility of Israel's neighbors, now more heavily armed thanks to Iran. (And we shouldn't ignore an increasingly bellicose Turkey.) Israel will need more ships both to defends its new off-shore gas assets and to prevent any threats to Israel-bound shipping.

  • Sage on the Stage

    Somehow…I don't think so. Israel is stronger than ever, and it will be here in 25 years…50 years…100 years, as a vibrant, thriving democracy. But will the United States still exist, as a democratic republic?


    traitorhere, Your kind have been predicting the same crap for 60 years.

    Why don't you follow your furhers example and crawl into your bunker and blow your brains out.

  • UCSPanther

    Too bad for you, the Israelis have way better weapons than the barbarians who are their neighbours.

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