Combating sea terror

Just hours after two soldiers were kidnapped by the Hizbullah in the North, Capt. Dani and his Third Flotilla were off to Lebanon to begin imposing a naval blockade on the country. The blockade was twofold - on the one hand to pressure the Lebanese government into releasing the abducted soldiers as well as prevent Syria from smuggling new weapon supplies to the Hizbullah. "This is an Israeli missile ship, please follow my instructions," Lt. Yoav calls sternly into a microphone on the bridge of the INS Lahav (Blade) Tuesday. "Stop at your current position and do not proceed any further." The Lahav, a Sa'ar 5-class missile ship like the Eilat, has become Capt. Dani's command post, from where he oversees all the navy's operations in Lebanon in his command post, including the blockade and the shelling of Hizbullah outposts near Beirut. "Our operations range from stopping ships from entering Lebanon to bombing Hizbullah outposts and rocket launchers," he explains. "Per the instructions of the political echelon, our main focus is on destroying Hizbullah infrastructure and in maintaining the naval siege imposed on Lebanon." Ten miles away, the navy has set up a "waiting area" for ships that have tried to leave Lebanon, says Lt. Zviel, one of the ship's deputy commanders. On Tuesday, eight ships were there, waiting for the navy to let them leave the region. The navy has yet to fire at a ship that has refused to heed orders, but officers on board the Lahav insist that they will do so if necessary.