Israel concerned Hezbollah might seek to impose de facto naval blockade in next conflict, officer says

Almost all of Israel’s imports come by sea; fear is Nasrallah may try to cripple the economy by firing missiles at foreign commercial vessels

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

The INS Hanit, file (Tsahi Ben-Ami /Flash90)
The INS Hanit, file (Tsahi Ben-Ami /Flash90)

The Israeli military is preparing for the next volley of missiles from Hezbollah, but fears it may be on the high seas rather than the hills of Galilee.

During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah launched two Iranian-made C-802 anti-ship missiles at a foreign merchant ship and the Israeli Naval Ship Hanit. The missile nearly sunk the Hanit and killed four of her sailors.

In the next round of conflict, whenever that may come, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah might use missiles to try to impose a de facto blockade on the State of Israel, a senior navy official told Walla News on Sunday.

The Navy speculates that the terrorist group’s operatives would fire missiles from Lebanon at commercial vessels and scare them away from entering Israel’s ports, he said.

“I am not sure that Israelis comprehend the significance of 99% of Israeli imports arriving by sea. The light bulb hasn’t gone on. It is critical to the State of Israel,” he said.

“Nasrallah is capable of launching missiles at Haifa Bay or at Israel’s natural gas rigs, because he does not care about the purity of arms — like any guerrilla organization. He is likely to harm civilians and merchant ships,” the unnamed officer added.

Such an eventuality would have “grave economic consequences” for Israel and “operational significance on the national security level,” the naval commander said. “Our primary mission is to deal with this threat.”

The Navy is also concerned that Hezbollah could obtain weapons from the Syrian Army which would affect the balance of power and could be used to threaten Israel’s territorial waters.

“We are closely following everything that happens in Syria, and if we need to respond, we will do so with all our capabilities,” the commander said.

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