The arrival in Haifa of Israel’s newest submarine, the INS Rahav, sends a message of deterrence to Israel’s enemies and of strength and security to Israel’s citizens, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday, hinting at a possible Israeli “second strike” capability.
“Our submarine fleet will act as a deterrent to our enemies who want to destroy us.
They will not achieve their aim. They need to know that Israel is capable of striking with very great strength at all those who would harm it,” he said, noting the submarines may be able to respond to a nuclear attack on Israel.
According to foreign reports, Israel’s submarines are armed with nuclear missiles.
Netanyahu added, “And the citizens of Israel need to know that Israel is a very strong country.”
The prime minister spoke during a festive welcome ceremony full of fanfare at the naval base in Haifa attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.- Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and Navy Adm. Ram Rothberg.
Netanyahu said that Israel is aiming for superiority on all military fronts and is active: in cyberspace, in the air, in space, on the ground, under the ground against the threat of tunnels, in the seas and underwater – with the country’s German-built submarine fleet.
The navy, including the submarines, undertakes “daring operations far from its home port, and – to a similar degree – far from everyone’s eyes,” he added.
To the applause of those gathered, he thanked German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck for their “great contribution to building up our naval strength by supplying these submarines and through other important means we are discussing.
“Our naval arm, including the submarines, is an essential defensive force in the stormy reality of the Middle East. Rogue waves continue to inundate the region and dangerous whirlpools encompass it on every side,” he said.
“We identify the dangers in time and we are well prepared to repel them,” Netanyahu added. “The task of responsible leadership is not to hide its head in the sand. We must have a clear view of what is happening around us.”
Netanyahu said there was an “ironclad law” in the Middle East, that weak countries have difficulty surviving, but a strong country “is a able to repel its threats and ensure its security and future.”
Rivlin said that “war machines” alone will not determine the battle, and that Israel’s advantage is in its people. Speaking to the naval officers and submarine crews at the ceremony, he said that it was not easy to be days and weeks under water, sometimes thousands of kilometers away from home and without fresh air, telephones, instagram, Facebook or the ability to tell their friends what they are doing. “Secrecy is our secret weapon,” he said.
“The watery depths that you control provides us with security.”
Ya’alon said Israel will “know how to reach any place in the Middle East and beyond, and place its hands on terrorist operatives, their commanders and those who dispatch them. And if we have to, also strike the weapons they seek to stockpile in order to use against us.”
The INS Rahav forms a central component of Israel’s military strength, and like the other Dolphin-class submarines in the Israeli fleet, will allow the navy to continue to work with other IDF branches to “thwart the wicked intentions of our enemies to disrupt our lives,” according to the defense minister.
The submarines not only provide maximum defense for Israeli residents, but also hold “offensive capabilities that enable us to strike in any place we choose, along Israel’s coasts and far from them,” he added.
Ya’alon continued, saying that the submarines and the sailors who operate them “will do so as they do today: In silence they will, with surprise and creativity, burst forward from the depths, and sometimes return to their bases without leaving a mark, placing another brick in Israel’s defensive wall.”
At a time in which the Middle East is seeing the collapse of states around Israel, and the rise of relentless terrorist organizations, Israel must act “with determination and power against those who seek its harm, but also with responsibility and good judgment,” he said.
The new submarine is Israel’s fifth Dolphin- class submarine, and it is the most expensive weapon ever purchased by the country. The INS Rahav, together with the INS Tannin – the fourth Dolphin sub, delivered to Israel in 2012 – and a sixth sub, which is still being built, will cost a total of some €1.4 billion. The German government is reportedly covering a third of that cost.