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Israel has vastly boosted Red Sea presence to counter Iran — outgoing navy head

15 34 1
17.09.2021

Israel’s navy has stepped up its activities in the Red Sea “exponentially” in the face of growing Iranian threats to Israeli shipping, the country’s just-retired navy commander said in an interview.

Vice Adm. Eli Sharvit stopped short of confirming a series of attacks and mishaps on Iranian ships that have been attributed to Israel. But he described Iranian activities on the high seas as a top Israeli concern and said the navy is able to strike wherever necessary to protect the country’s economic and security interests.

“The State of Israel will protect its freedom of navigation across the globe,” Sharvit told The Associated Press, days after completing his five-year term. “That’s not related to distance from the country.”

Sharvit was a busy man during his tenure — overseeing a small but well-equipped force responsible for safeguarding Israel’s Mediterranean coast as well as the Red Sea, a vital gateway for imports from Asia.

While the Israeli navy has an overwhelming advantage over its enemies in the region, it nonetheless faces an array of threats. They include the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which possesses an arsenal of guided surface-to-sea missiles, and Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers, which have developed a small squad of naval commandos, as well as the challenges posed by Iran’s military activity across the region.

One of the navy’s most important responsibilities is protecting Israel’s natural gas platforms in the Mediterranean Sea, which now provide some 75 percent of the country’s electricity.

To the north, Hezbollah has made no secret of its intentions to target those platforms if war breaks out. The........

© The Times of Israel


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