Israeli Navy Ship 311.
(photo credit: Jorge Guerra Moreno)
The government is considering a plan to allocate $100 million to the Navy to
enable it to purchase new ships which it will require to effectively protect
future Israeli gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea.
Under consideration is
the possibility that the funds will be partially provided by the companies
developing the gas fields off Israel’s coast, which are estimated to contain
billions of barrels of natural gas.
Israel’s discovery of large natural
gas fields off its coast has raised tensions with Lebanon which claims that some
of the fields are in its sovereign waters.
In early July, the cabinet
approved the demarcation of Israel’s northern maritime border with Lebanon,
which sets the economic rights in offshore territories that have become
lucrative with the recent discoveries of vast natural-gas
Israel’s concern is that Hezbollah and Hamas will try to
attack the Israeli gas rigs at sea in explosive-laden ships, or with anti-ship
missiles. Iran has also recently announced plans to deploy warships in the
While the Navy is traditionally responsible for defending
Israel’s coast and its sea-based natural resources, it has told the government
that it does not have enough ships and platforms to effectively defend future
oil rigs. Some government officials had raised the possibility of hiring private
security contractors to protect the fields, but the plan was rejected by the
Defense Ministry. The plan under consideration could see the procurement
of new ships.