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Israel Probes Naval Missile Defense Failure

The INS Hanit, an Israeli warship is seen enforcing a sea blockade off the Lebanese coast as Israel jet fighters bombards the country 14 July 2006. Later that day, the ship was hit by an Hezbollah missile. Photo courtesy of the Israeli Army and AFP.
by Staff Writers
Washington (UPI) Oct 17, 2006
An Israel Navy inquiry into the Hezbollah missile strike on an advanced Israeli warship in July has recommended against penalizing senior officers on the vessel, the Jerusalem post reported Monday. Four Israeli sailors were killed when a Chinese-built C-802 guided missile supplied by Iran to Hezbollah hit the INS Hanit on July 14 during the first week of the Lebanon war.

The attack came as a stunning shock to the Israeli public and military command alike for a variety of reasons. Hezbollah was not believed to have any ordnance capable of hitting Israeli warships operating in the Mediterranean.

Also, the Hanit, a Sa'ar-5 class missile ship, was regarded as one of the most technologically advanced vessels in the Israeli Navy and it had been assumed that the ship's own anti-ballistic missile defenses would give it adequate defense against such a missile attack.

The Jerusalem Post said that the committee led by Brig.-Gen. (res.) Nir Maor concluded that Israeli military intelligence was at fault for failing to uncover the missile deployment.

"Senior naval officers admitted at the time that they were taken by surprise, claiming that they did not know Hezbollah possessed such advanced capabilities and had as a result deactivated the Barak missile defense system on the ship which was capable of intercepting and destroying the missile," the Jerusalem Post said.

"The INS Hanit is Israel's most advanced missile ship and boasts an array of Harpoon and Barak anti-missile missiles, along with a system for electronically jamming incoming missiles and other threats," the newspaper said.

However, the paper added that Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, "was not satisfied with the findings presented to him on Monday and asked that additional work be done before presenting the final conclusions."

The paper noted that the investigation had set off a row between the Israeli Navy and Israeli Military Intelligence, each of whom blamed the other for not alerting the Harit's commander and senior officers on the possible missile threat.

"In the report, Maor found flaws in the transmission of intelligence information from Military Intelligence to Naval Intelligence and to the commanders of the missile ships. Navy officials claimed that they did not have the information that would have enabled them to understand that Hezbollah was in possession of advanced anti-ship radar-guided missiles," the paper said.

However, "Military Intelligence claims that the information was transmitted to the Navy three years ago," the report said.

Source: United Press International

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