Israel is concerned that in a war with Hezbollah, the Lebanese guerrilla group
will try to blockade Israel by attacking civilian cargo ships.
sea lines of communication span the length of the Mediterranean Sea and around
the Magreb region of North Africa, with 99 percent of all goods arriving in the
country by sea, including ammunition and military hardware.
assessments are that Hezbollah will try to attack cargo ships within a
30-kilometer radius of Israel, in an effort to get commercial vessels to refuse
to sail there during a war.
During the Second Lebanon War in July 2006,
Hezbollah fired a missile at the INS Hanit
corvette, killing four sailors and
causing extensive damage. Another missile sunk a nearby cargo
“Hezbollah has already proven that it can fire missiles, so
the operational capability exists as does the readiness to act,” a senior navy
The officer warned of the economic ramifications for Israel
if Hezbollah succeeded in stopping merchant ships from sailing to the ports of
Ashdod and Haifa.
“People have not internalized what it means that 99% of
what we import as a country comes by sea,” he said. “Ships stopping to sail here
would have economic and security ramifications and is therefore the first and
primary challenge we will need to confront.”
Hezbollah is believed to
have a significant arsenal of Chinese-developed anti-ship missiles such as the
C-802, which is radar-guided and was used to hit the Hanit
addition, the navy is concerned with Syria’s recent purchase of the Russian
Yakhont anti-ship missile, which could be transferred to Hezbollah. Syria
already tested the Yakhont in recent maneuvers and the missile is said to have a
range of about 300 km.
“We are closely following what is happening in
Syria and if a response is needed, we will know how to respond,” the officer
One of the failures that led to the missile strike on the Hanit was
the navy’s decision to deactivate the vessel’s Barak missile defense system due
to an absence of intelligence that Hezbollah was in possession of sophisticated
The navy plans in the coming years to equip its ships
with a new missile defense system called Barak-8. The new missile will
reportedly feature a more advanced seeker and have a longer range, perhaps a few