Israel fears that naval mines from Libya will be smuggled into the Gaza Strip
and used by Palestinian terrorist groups to target navy vessels and civilian
The apprehension stems from intelligence reports indicating
that large quantities of weaponry – formerly stored in Libyan military
warehouses – have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip, including short-range
Katyusha rockets as well as sophisticated shoulder-to-air missiles.
has a significant arsenal of naval mines and in the 1980s was suspected of
laying mines throughout the Red Sea, damaging close to 20 vessels.
April, NATO ships detected a number of Libyan boats laying mines near the port
of Misrata by forces loyal to former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in a move the
western military alliance said was aimed at disrupting the flow of humanitarian
aid into the country.
Three mines were discovered by NATO and the port
was temporarily closed.
Egypt is also believed to be troubled by the
possibility that naval mines will make their way to Gaza, since once placed in
the sea – and if not anchored down – they could potentially drift into Egyptian
territorial waters or international shipping routes.
Moreover, Egypt is
concerned that the weapons could be supplied to global jihad elements operating
in the Sinai Peninsula.
On June 29, Egyptian security forces announced
they had seized a large arms cache that had been smuggled in from Libya and was
bound for the Gaza Strip.
The cache included over 100 Katyusha rockets
and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
In related news, Israel is keeping
a watchful eye on Egyptian naval procurement.
The Egyptian Navy is, for
example, purchasing two new submarines from Germany of a similar model to the
Dolphin-class submarines in the Israel Navy’s fleet. Egypt is also receiving new
missile ships from the United States.
Israeli-Egyptian military ties are
ongoing despite the election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi as the
new Egyptian president. There is, however, general and long-term concern in
Israel regarding Egyptian military procurement plans.