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Navy tests new generation of anti-ship missiles as tensions with Hezbollah soar

Successful trial of Gabriel V, which is being deployed on advanced corvettes, shows its capability to ‘destroy wide variety of targets,’ ensure ‘naval superiority’

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The Israeli Navy conducted a successful test of the latest generation of anti-ship missiles last month, the military and Defense Ministry announced Wednesday.

The Gabriel V is the fifth generation of the anti-ship missile developed by the Israeli Aerospace Industries and the Defense Ministry’s research and development division, known by the Hebrew acronym MAFAT.

In the “complex” trial in August, the Sa’ar 6-class corvette INS Oz launched a missile at a mock ship, destroying it.

The Israel Defense Forces said the missile is capable of flying hundreds of kilometers in various sea and air conditions, enabling it to “foil and destroy a wide variety of targets and threats.”

The Gabriel V missiles are being deployed on the navy’s Sa’ar 6-class corvettes, replacing the Gabriel IV, developed in the 1990s. The Finnish Navy also announced it had procured the fifth-generation Gabriel from Israel in December 2019.

“The advanced missiles ensure the preservation of the IDF’s naval superiority, and will be used by the navy in its missions, including the protection of the strategic assets of the State of Israel,” the military said in a statement.

The announcement came as tensions ran high between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, as the latter has threatened Israeli gas installations amid US-mediated talks over a maritime dispute.

A sea-based Iron Dome air defense system is seen on a Navy ship, guarding the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The dispute, which involves competing claims over offshore gas fields, escalated in June after Israel moved a production vessel near the Karish offshore field, which is partly claimed by Lebanon.

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, whose terror group launched four unarmed drones toward the Karish field in July, issued a fresh threat on Saturday, warning Israel against beginning extraction.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Monday said Israel would go ahead and extract gas from Karish with or without a deal on the maritime border with Lebanon.

The dispute relates to some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon claims that the Karish gas field is in the disputed territory, while Israel says it lies within its internationally recognized economic waters.

Hezbollah remains vociferously opposed to any concessions to Israel.

The Iran-backed terror group and Israel last fought a war in 2006. Beirut and Jerusalem have no diplomatic relations and the two countries are separated by the UN-patrolled ceasefire line.

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