“At least nine people have been killed after Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army says.” This according to the BBC. “Israel says its soldiers were shot at and attacked with bars and knives; the activists say Israeli troops came on board shooting.”
“As we are reminded time and time again, early reporting often gets it wrong,” according to Information Dissemination. “The same is true with the events involving the flotilla engaged by the [Israeli Defense Forces].”
We await further reporting. In the meantime, here’s a survey of War Is Boring‘s recent articles on the Israeli sea service:
Israeli Navy Revamps for Hybrid, Littoral and Strategic Warfare
On July 14, 2006, Hezbollah fighters fired two anti-ship missiles at the Israeli navy’s INS Hanit, a Sa’ar 5-class corvette, while Hanit was patrolling 10 miles off the Lebanese coast in support of Israeli attacks on the Iranian-supported extremist group. …
The attack was a major propaganda coup for Iran and Hezbollah and a wake-up call for the Israeli navy. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah monitored and commented on the missile strike in real time, while conducting a phone interview with a Lebanese television station. “You don’t know who you are dealing with,” he said as Hanit burned. … [T]he attack underscored shortfalls in Israeli tactics, equipment and preparedness that the 5,500-strong sea service has worked hard to correct.
Subsequent naval operations, particularly those targeting Iranian-backed Hamas in Gaza in January, revealed a better trained and equipped Israeli navy. Today the navy is optimizing to take on so-called “hybrid” threats, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, that combine high technology with insurgent methods — while Israel also boosts its high-end strategic capabilities, in order to deter Iran from overt attacks.
Inside the New Israeli Defense Forces
For years, the IDF had struggled to protect its ships and boats from insurgent attackers. In 2000, 2002 and again in April this year, Palestinian extremists using explosive-laden fishing boats tried to blow themselves up alongside Israeli patrol vessels. Bombers, combined with the missile threat, have made the waters off Gaza and Lebanon some of most dangerous in the world. After Lebanon, the Israeli navy realized it no longer had the upper hand.
The IDF’s answer was to update its tactics and equipment. For starters, Israeli corvettes apparently now operate mostly at night, when it’s more difficult for extremist missile-launchers and bombers to spot them. Also, the ships probably use more electronic jamming. When Israeli warships must operate during the day, they stay farther from land, according to a senior navy source. That means corvettes like Hanit, which has been repaired, rely heavily on missiles, rather than guns, to hit ground targets. The IDF showed Wired.co.uk a series of videos depicting a corvette firing what appear to be Spike armor-piercing missiles at targets in Gaza. The Israeli navy arms many of its vessels with highly accurate Typhoon weapons mounts that can be fitted with machine-guns, grenade launchers or Spike missiles.
Israel Boosts Nuclear, Conventional Deterrence
In July , the Israeli navy — a force mostly confined to the eastern Mediterranean — sent three of its most powerful warships through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea. A Dolphin-class diesel-powered submarine passed through the canal on July 3. Two Sa’ar 5-class corvettes followed, 10 days later. The ships trained alongside Egyptian forces, then returned to Israel by mid-July. It was the largest long-range naval deployment in recent history for the 5,500-strong Israeli navy, and the first since 2005 for an Israeli sub.
The naval deployments are part of a wide range of activities meant to reinforce Israel’s strategic deterrence and its increasingly close ties to neighboring Arab states. Worries over Iran’s continuing nuclear ambitions, and Tehran’s ongoing support for Hezbollah and Hamas, have spurred big Israeli investment in strike aircraft, submarines, surface ships and missiles — both nuclear and non-nuclear — tailored for long-range strikes on heavily defended targets.