Israeli Navy Steps Up Presence in Red Sea

Israel has covertly attacked at least a dozen Iran-linked ships in the region in recent years

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The Israeli navy has significantly stepped up its presence in the Red Sea, said Vice Adm. Eli Sharvit, who just recently retired from his post as the head of the country’s navy.

“We have increased our presence in the Red Sea most significantly,” Sharvit told The Associated Press. “We are operating there continuously with main ships, that is to say missile frigates and submarines. What in the past was for relatively short periods of time is now done continuously.”

Sharvit claimed the increased presence was in response to “growing threats” from Iran. The Israelis often blame Iran for attacks on ships in the region. Most recently, Israel and the US accused Iran of being behind a deadly drone attack on the Mercer Street, an Israeli-linked tanker. For their part, Iran strongly denies it was involved in the attack.

While it’s not clear if the Iranians were behind the Mercer Street attacks, what is known is that the Israelis have attacked many Iranian-linked ships in the region in recent years. In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that since 2019, Israel had attacked at least a dozen ships in the Middle East that were either Iranian or carrying Iranian fuel and were bound for Syria.

A media report is not confirmation, but Israel is notorious for carrying out covert attacks and then leaking them to the media, and no Israeli officials have denied the attacks. Sharvit would not discuss specific operations but said Israel’s presence in the region had increased “exponentially” over the past three years.

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