TEL AVIV ø A submarine from a NATO navy was detected entering
Israeli territorial waters last week on a reconnaissance mission.
Military sources said the submarine came from what appeared to be a NATO
navy that patrols the eastern Mediterranean. The sources said the submarine
entered three miles into Israeli territorial waters off the coast of
Nahariya before it was detected. The submarine then left Israeli waters, pursued by Israeli ships and helicopters.
"The speed and signature of the submarine were that of an advanced NATO
navy vessel," an Israeli military source said. "We are very disturbed by
this because this is not the first time that this has happened."
The submarine entered Israeli territorial waters overnight Nov. 10, Middle East Newsline reported.
Military sources said the submarine, with its periscope perched above the
water, was heading for Haifa, the headquarters of the Israel Navy and the
location of refineries and other vital infrastructure.
"It could very well be that this submarine was American or French,
Russian or Italian, who are regular visitors in the Mediterranean sea,"
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Yuval Steinitz said. "If we
had attacked the submarine, dozens of American or French sailors would have
died unnecessarily. We chose not to destroy the submarine, but rather to
The sources said the submarine sought to conduct reconnaissance of
Israel's vital facilities. They said the submarine probably also intended to
intercept electronic signals from the navy and test the response of Israel's
military to an intrusion.
Within minutes, the Israel Navy detected the foreign submarine and began
tracking the vessel, the sources said. After several hours, the submarine,
presumably determining that it had come under Israeli surveillance,
submerged and headed west away from the Israeli coast.
At that point, the navy sent fast patrol craft, missile boats and
helicopters to intercept the vessel. The search was said to have lasted
several hours and the submarine was not found. Later, military sources
maintained that the intruding submarine failed to complete its mission.
Several military sources, acknowledging that they did not have
sufficient evidence, suggested that the intruding vessel was a U.S.
nuclear-powered submarine. They ruled out the possibility that the submarine
belonged to Iran or an Arab or Soviet-bloc navy.
The sources said this was not the first time a foreign submarine had
entered Israeli territorial waters on an espionage operation. They appeared
to rule out the prospect that the submarine had wandered into Israeli
territorial waters by accident.