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What Would Be Result of a Tel Aviv-Hezbollah Sea Confrontation?

By Jacob Anderson

15 Aug 2023 03:38

Islam Times - Despite the several-year fragile calm on the Lebanese-Israeli borders, with the assumption of power in Tel Aviv by the hardline cabinet of Benjamin Netanyahu clouds of possible war overshadow the borders and clashes are likely to break out any time.

Although Israeli officials warn against any conflict with Hezbollah and say they are not ready for such a situation, the provocations the Israeli military conducts near the Lebanese borders push the two sides towards a serious escalation. 

Al-Mayadeen news network on Tuesday reported that Lebanon's navy put its forces on alert to the Israeli boats violating the Lebanese sovereignty. Reports say that Israeli naval boats violated the Lebanese territorial waters, escalating the tensions. These maritime movements come as on Monday media reported Israeli violation of the Lebanese territory again and installation of a concrete wall on its soil. 
Despite these escalatory measures, Tel Aviv security officials are extremely afraid of a conflict with Hezbollah. The estimates of the Israeli security apparatus, published in recent days, indicate that should a conflict erupt, thousands of rockets will be fired into the occupied territories every day, and Israeli territories will be plunged into a blackout for long hours. 
According to the Israeli media, the estimates suggest that communications will be disrupted by Hezbollah attacks as mobile phone networks would be disrupted. Even the power to warn against Hezbollah attacks will be overshadowed and routes will be closed, and the ports will go out of service. Flights will be stalled and Israeli regime will suffer from thousands of fires and cyber attacks. 
Certainly, in case of a confrontation, one of the most important fronts that would decide the fate of the war is sea. 
Though Hezbollah has showed off its drone and missile power, its naval capability remains undisclosed to the Israeli enemy, and there is a possibility that it would have a new surprise to Tel Aviv. This lack of precise information about Hezbollah naval power is one of the main obstacles keeping Israeli occupation from risking another war. 
According to a report published by the Israeli media a few years ago, Hezbollah has received dozens of Russian Yakhont missiles that can deal serious blows to the Israeli fleet of warships. The Yakhont missile, with a range of 300 kilometers, is a single warhead surface-to-surface supersonic anti-ship cruise missile that moves at a height of 15 meters above sea level before striking the target, and thus radars are unable to detect it. This missile has an early warning radar, which puts it on a fast and sharp maneuvering mode in case of a hostile radar lock on it. 
Also, C-802 missiles, which are ground-sea weapons, are part of Hezbollah naval power that were used for the first time in 2006 war against INS Hanit corvette. 
Additionally, given Hezbollah’s massive foreign defense cooperation, it may have gained the technology of fast boats. Israeli regime is extremely afraid of these boats procured by Hezbollah. Some models of them reach 14 meters long and are capable of being armed with anti-ship missiles. High speed is the feature that makes them stand out. Also, there is a smaller and faster model of them that is armed with special weapons and are capable of fast reaction to any hostility. 
These are only part of Hezbollah's maritime power which is developing day by day. Given the tensions between Lebanon and Israeli regime about drawing of maritime borders in recent years, it seems that saber-rattling at sea will be the main part of any possible confrontation between Tel Aviv and Hezbollah. 
Israeli sources believe that Hezbollah has been able to acquire naval battle equipment in recent years, an issue that can broaden the scope of future conflict with Tel Aviv, and according to some experts, the Israeli adventure in the disputed Karish gas field was made with the aim of testing the naval power of Hezbollah in order to get an accurate assessment. 
Cutting off Israeli economic artery 
Certainly, any sea confrontation between the two sides would not bring equal costs to Tel Aviv and Hezbollah. For Lebanon, a country that has been grappling with a biting economic crisis and Western-Arab sanctions and has nothing to lose, war will not bring massive economic damages, but for the Israeli regime that has a deep dependence on sea borders and conducts 80 percent of its trade through sea, any war will be severely detrimental. 
Also, 90 percent of Israeli imports are carried out by commercial ships that are sailing in the Mediterranean. Ensured sea security makes it easy for Israeli commercial ships to sail. The Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea are the economic arteries of the Israeli regime, and one is under the control of Ansarullah in Yemen and the other is under the control of its ally Hezbollah, and this is considered a serious threat to the vital arteries of Tel Aviv. If the conflict between the two sides extends to the sea, the security of the Israeli commercial fleet will also suffer a crisis. 
Strategic cities like Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Ashdod are port cities that represent an Israeli artery by hosting navigation of commercial ships. Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly warned that in future war, the Lebanese movement will strike Tel Aviv and Haifa and that is because of their economic significance to the Israeli regime. 
Making Israeli ports insecure for a long time will cost the regime billions of dollars, and at a time the occupied territories are facing an economic crisis caused by the fleeing of foreign capital, grave consequences would await the Israelis. 
Hezbollah has other options to cut off Israeli economic arteries. One of them is focus on Karish, a gas field shared by Israeli regime and Lebanon. Over the past two decades, Tel Aviv constructed facilities and produced gas unilaterally from the disputed gas field, but since last year, production was ceased following Hezbollah threatening to strike the offshore gas platform should a deal is not reached. A senior Israeli security official admitted last year that Hezbollah's arsenal, including cruise missiles, could threaten Israeli ships and gas rigs. Nasrallah had previously threatened that if Israelis want to disrupt the maritime negotiations, resistance missiles are aimed at the gas facilities. 
Therefore, in case of a conflict, Hezbollah can destroy all of the Israeli facilities in this gas field and cut off the Israeli access to their gas for a long time. After all, it is time-taking to rebuild new infrastructure and drilling rigs. In the middle of the tensions with Tel Aviv in June 2022, Hezbollah sent three reconnaissance drones over Karish in display of power to strike if necessary. Actually, the main reason for Tel Aviv’s retreat from the excesses in the maritime negotiations with Lebanon was the fear of clashes with Hezbollah. Last year, a team of Hezbollah divers recited the holy Qur'an and said prayers and stayed for 18 hours underwater near the disputed gas facility, a symbolic action that represented a warning that if the Israelis make a mistake, even the sea will not be safe for them. 
Military damages 
In military terms, the scale of damages the Israeli military would sustain from the resistance forces will not be less than the economic and trade damages, and the Israelis remember this bitter experience very well. In the 33-day war in 2006 that Hezbollah was not as powerful and equipped as today, the Lebanese movement managed to neutralize the arm of the Israeli naval power by its targeting of Sa'ar corvette. At the time, the Israeli navy announced that if the Hezbollah cruise missile would have fully struck the vessel’s hull or the fire from the strike reached the additional fuel tank of the helicopters just under the landing pad, a huge explosion and sinking of the corvette was unavoidable. 
Hezbollah’s acquisition of precision-guided missiles, which has become a nightmare for Tel Aviv leaders these days, can unleash hell to the Israelis, because should they lose their warships, they would have no power to counter Hezbollah. 
Nasrallah's warning a few years ago to target ships that transport dangerous ammonia from Haifa to other areas, from a military point of view, raised the level of quantitative and qualitative threats and indicated that all areas of the occupied territories are within the range of Hezbollah's missiles and any miscalculated action will result in a painful response. 
The Israeli regime, whose vital interests depend on the sea, spends enormously to secure navigation in the Mediterranean. Last decade, under the ruse of protection of gas platforms, the Israeli navy ordered 4 guided missile destroyers, valued around $2 billion. 
Also, in January 2020, Tel Aviv signed a $3.2 billion deal with Germany’s TyssenKrupp company for construction of 3 advanced submarines for the navy. 
The heavy Israeli spending to strengthen its naval power indicates that Tel Aviv is aware of the Hezbollah capability to realize its threats at the sea. Therefore, if Hezbollah inflicts the same damage it inflicted on Sa'ar corvette on the multi-billion destroyers and submarines, it will ground the Israeli navy. Inflicting these costs on Tel Aviv takes Hezbollah a few missiles of several ten thousand dollars which are nothing compared to the enemy's multi-billion dollar damage. 

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