Wednesday, July 11, 2012 | Michael Selutin – israeltoday.co.il
The Ministry of Defense and the Navy submitted a plan for the defense of the gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea to Israel’s Cabinet. The plan claims a massive increase in troop strength and general budget. The costs for the defense of four drilling stations will amount to approximately three billion shekels, which corresponds to approximately $760 million. “This area is strategically important like any area on Israel’s mainland,“ Navy General Ram Rotberg commented on the plan. The plan implies that Israel will acquire four vessels for the coast guard, each of them of the size of a torpedo boat, and that they will be equipped with the „Barak“ defense system. This system works almost like the „Iron Dome“ on the mainland, which is to intercept missiles. A new radar system for the detection of terrorist activity will be added.
Approximately 250 navy soldiers and other experts will be operating the vessels. They will fend off different threats like missiles, mine boats, bombs and much more. The army emphasized that they are not willing to station troops or weapons directly on the drilling stations, since they would be declared as military bases and thus as „legitimate“ targets for attacks.
Israel’s Navy has adopted many new tasks during the past years, among other things also the detection of smuggling of arms by Hamas and Hezbollah, who receive them from Iran via the Red Sea. The situation of anarchy in Egypt as well as Libya after the revolution in those countries leads to increased security risks for Israel. This means new challenges for the Navy as well.