Israel Receives Its Most Advanced Warship Amid Heightened Iran Tensions
Israel received its most advanced warship on Wednesday, describing the German-made vessel dubbed “Shield” as a bulwark for vulnerable Mediterranean gas rigs as tensions with Tehran soar over the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist.
The Saar-6 corvette that docked in Haifa port, and three of the same model to follow next year, will bring to 15 the number of missile boats deployed by an Israeli navy which, while small, carries out missions as far away as the Red Sea and the Gulf.
Israel also wants to protect off-shore natural gas fields close to Lebanon, an old foe with which it has held so far fruitless US-mediated maritime border talks.
“The welcome discovery of the gas fields off Israel‘s shore made it necessary to create a plan that will provide a protective envelope,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said at ceremony at the port.
The navy sees a threat to the gas rigs from Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah guerrillas, especially after Tehran vowed to retaliate for Friday’s killing of nuclear mastermind Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which it blamed on Israel.
“The Iranians are looking for ‘prestige’ targets like these, that can be hit with low casualties, meaning — they may hope — less chance of escalation,” an Israeli security official told Reuters. “The question is whether Hezbollah would strike now.”
Read More: Algemeiner