The Navy Throughout Israel's Wars
The Navy's story begins on March 17, 1948 when the Chief of the Haganah staff ordered
the establishment of the Naval Service. It had a forerunner
in the Palyam, though the main mission of the Palyam
had been in transferring illegal immigrants from Europe to Palestine.
- War of Independence (1948)
- Sinai Campaign (1956)
- Six-Day War (1967)
- "The War After the War"
- War of Attrition (1968-1970)
- Yom Kippur War (1973)
- First Lebanon War (1982)
The War of Independence (1948)
During the War
of Independence, the Israel Navy undertook a number of actions and
campaigns which led to Israel's command of the sea, despite the clear
superiority of the enemy naval force. The most impressive Israeli naval
operation during the war was the sinking of the Emir Farouk the
flagship of the Egyptian fleet and the damaging of an Egyptian
minesweeper which had been escorting troops and equipment to be landed
in the combat areas.
In the post-war years of 1948-1955 the Israel Navy
laid the foundations for its buildup. Vessels, guns, radar and electronic
equipment were purchased; combat doctrine developed; sea training upgraded.
The Sinai Campaign (1956)
During the Sinai
Campaign, the Israel Navy successfully carried out missions which
Supporting to the ninth division on its way to Sharm-e-Sheik.
Recovering a complete Egyptian MIG aircraft from
the Bardawil lagoon. This recovery by the Navy provided the Israel
Air Force with an excellent opportunity to learn about the systems
and vulnerable points of their aircraft, which had been used extensively
by the Egyptians.
Capturing the Egyptian flagship, the Ibrahim el-Awal,
on the night of 30-31 October, 1956. This was the crowning achievement
of the Israel Navy during the Sinai Campaign. The destroyer's crew were
taken prisoner and the vessel was towed to Haifa port, where it was
refitted and commissioned as the third destroyer in the Israel Navy,
under the name INS Haifa.
The Six Day War (1967)
When the Six
Day War broke out, the Israel Navy was in the midst of the process
of replacing its old craft with new ones. The Navy was thus forces to
use its antiquated equipment to defend Israel's coastline, and to attack
enemy craft and their bases. Though Arab countries enjoyed a quantitative
superiority in naval assets and equipment. They did not attempt to interdict
Israel's sea lanes, and in those cases where they tried to approach
the Israeli coastline, they were forced to retreat in the face of the
The Israel Navy operated in two theaters, the Mediterranean
and the Red Sea. In the Red Sea, the Israel Navy took Sharm-e-Sheik,
at the southernmost point of the Sinai peninsula.
One of the immediate results of the Six
Day War was the addition of 800 km of coastline, which increased
five-fold the area which now had to be protected by the Israel Navy,
The War after the War
The end of the Six
Day War failed to bring quiet to the new borders. Israel's Arab
neighbors did not accept their defeat. Sporadic flare-ups began immediately
after the war. These included terror operations and static artillery
bombardments. Following a series of incidents, the Navy instituted patrols
to ensure Israel's sovereignty and to protect the coastline. Every night,
Israel Navy vessels made sorties along the Sinai coastline up to Port
Said. On the night of the 11-12 July, 1967, the INS Eilat and two Israel
torpedo boats identified two targets as two Egyptian torpedo boats off
the Rumani coast. They immediately engaged the vessels and sank them.
In the year after the Six
Day War, the Navy suffered two heavy losses. In October 1967, the
destroyer INS Eilat was sunk, and a few months later, the submarine
INS Dakar was lost, with its entire crew of 69 sailors, on its maiden
voyage from Portsmouth, England to Israel. To this day, the Israel Navy
continues its efforts to find the INS Dakar and bring its crew to burial
The War of Attrition (1968-1970)
Coordinated by Egypt, the War
of Attrition had the aim of engaging Israel in a bloody conflict
that would make use of the Arab countries' superior assets. The principal
theater of operations for the Israel Navy during this war was the Suez
Canal. The Egyptians initiated incidents incessantly using heavy artillery
at Israeli positions east of the Suez and accompanied by incursions.
These attacks inflicted heavy casualties. The Israel Navy responded
by attacking targets on the west coast of the Suez Canal, driving the
war to enemy territory.
Between December 1967 and January 1970, the Navy took
possession of missile boats that were built in Cherbourg. Delivered
unarmed, they were outfitted with Israeli- designed and produced Gabriel
The Yom Kippur War (1973)
On the eve of the Yom
Kippur War, the Navy was perhaps more ready for combat than any
other part of the IDF.
When the war began, Navy ships and men were on full alert and at stations.
Despite the fact that the Israel Navy was smaller in size than the enemy
navies, it carried out successful attacks on enemy vessels and ports
and prevented enemy craft and from attacking Israeli shores.
The following were some of the main battles of the
The first sea-to-sea missile battle in the history
of naval warfare, which occurred at the entrance to the Syrian port
of Latakia, during which
5 Syrian ships, including 3 missile boats, a mine layer and a gun
boat, were sunk.
The battle of Port Said, during which an Israeli
missile boat sank an Egyptian missile boat.
The battle of Damietta, in which an Israeli missile
boat task force intercepted and sank four Egyptian missile boats.
In these battles, the Israeli Dabur
(Hornet) missile boat was the main power of the Navy. In the battles
of Marse Telemat, De Castro and Ras Arib, the Israel Navy attacked and
destroyed enemy vessels. In addition, naval commandos were active in
After the war, the Navy extended its deployment of
missile boats to Sharm-e-Sheik which enabled the Israel Navy to conduct
operations further south. At the same time, the Navy was involved in
intensive activities on the northern front due to the infiltration of
terrorists and intensification of security patrols. For this purpose,
the Navy acquired a new generation of submarines (Gal) new missile
boats built in Israeli shipyards, and Harpoon sea-to-sea missiles.
The period between the Yom
Kippur and Peace for
Galilee Wars (1973-1982) was one of increased terrorist activities
against Israel. This required the Navy to find suitable solutions, based
on intensive patrol operations along the coastline.
The Peace for Galilee War (1982)
Naval activities in the Peace
for Galilee war were highlighted by amphibious operations. In the
first days of the war, the Navy succeeded in landing armored brigades,
infantry and paratroopers on the Awali coast. During the war, the Navy
also provided support to the ground forces through bombardment of the
Lebanese coastline, as well as raising a siege on Beirut from the sea.
The Navy was also responsible for attacking terrorist targets along
the Lebanese coastline.
Sources: Israel Defense Forces; More about Israel Wars