As a narrow country with much of its population concentrated along its Mediterranean coast, Israel is particularly vulnerable to attack from the sea, and organizations like Hizballah and Hamas are able to do it substantial damage. Even more vulnerable are its natural-gas facilities, which Jerusalem hopes to expand. Turkey, meanwhile, has become a hostile power with influence in the eastern Mediterranean, while Iran and China are increasing their naval presences in the area. Seth Cropsey outlines a maritime strategy for Israel, which, he argues, will also benefit the U.S.:
[W]hile making sure that the Israeli navy’s size, composition, and balance are sufficient, a clear statement of maritime strategy would [further] improve Israel’s security. The objective is security for the close-in waters of [an] arc that stretches from Haifa through the western reaches of the Sinai to Eilat and the Red Sea. This would defend population centers, infrastructure including natural-gas rigs, and other coastal targets. It would be Israel’s first line of maritime defense. . . ,
A strategy of deterrence by denial—that is the ability to inflict immediate and substantial pain against attacking vessels or mine-layers, and the ports from which they and special operations forces emerge—is needed to stop attacks and even better, deter them. . . .
An Israeli maritime strategy should [also] consider how best to draw on Israel’s human and technological strengths for superior weapons, platforms, and sensors. . . . In the early 19th century, French naval planners developed what would become known as the jeune école concept of naval warfare. Based on smaller naval combatants and highly skilled crews, the intent was to deploy large numbers of technologically advanced, steam-propelled small vessels to counter England’s high-displacement battleships. . . . Israel has very high-quality and skilled sailors. Like 19th-century France, it possesses advanced technological skills. Marrying these two strengths is as useful in defeating terrorists at sea as it applies to defending against conventional ships. . . .
The U.S. has a major stake in the success of Israel’s sea defense, not only because of its interest in Israel’s overall security and well-being but because it has reduced its own presence in the Mediterranean so dramatically since the end of the cold war.