From Junior Associate to Senior Partner? The Israeli Navy’s Strategic Challenges in the 21st Century

Israel depends on the Mediterranean Sea, and the Israeli Navy bears overall responsibility for safeguarding the country’s strategic, security, and economic assets in and around its territorial waters. For various historical reasons, the Israeli Navy was not originally given the priority afforded to its two brethren services: the ground and air forces. Recent geostrategic trends have altered the security situation of the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean, however, and this has affected the nature of the threats to Israel’s national security. These developments have led to an increasingly important role for the Israeli Navy in securing Israel’s national interests.

Israel is surrounded on three sides: it has countries to the north, south, and east. Its independence, economy, and security—indeed, its very existence— depends on the Mediterranean Sea. Half the country’s residents live fewer than 30 kilometers from the coastline, and over 98% of Israel’s foreign trade is transported by sea.

The Israeli Navy (IN) bears overall responsibility for safeguarding Israel’s strategic, security, and economic assets along the coastline and close to it, as well as farther out to sea in its territorial waters and in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The IN is also responsible for protecting sea lanes to and from Israel, securing maritime transportation and trade, combating marine terrorism, and assisting the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in combat. In this context, the Navy engages in special operations and intelligence operations. When necessary, it also conducts attacks on both land and sea targets.

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