This is the second consecutive year that the Israeli Navy Missile Boat unit has received the chief of staff award for excellence. Most of the prize committee's explanations for choosing them will not be disclosed because the unit's dozens of operations and achievements are classified.
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Lieutenant-Colonel Asi Ben Hamo, a company commander in the elite naval commando unit, Shayetet, described the naval reality to Ynet. He spoke of the fact that the soldiers protect the gas rigs in the Economic Zone, approximately 200 km from Israel's shores.
"We know that (Sheikh Hassan) Nasrallah has the ability to strike the Economic Zone," said Ben Hamo.
Economic Zone gas rigs (Photo: Reuters)
"The Economic Zone is under grave threat. We saw this with the 'Victoria' weapons vessel smuggling attempt which thwarted the entrance of weapons likely to reach the Economic Zone," said the lieutenant-colonel.
According to him, defending the Economic Zone is a new, complex challenge, "necessary for Israel to be economically self-reliant and not dependent on the Egyptian gas pipe anymore. True, this places a great burden on us and compels us to prioritize our missions. Almost every time you arrive at the docks, you will see they are empty."
"No week is like the previous one," said Ben Hamo, "during Operation Pillar of Defense, we were the first to attack alongside the Air Force; arriving right after massive training.
"Our fighters have said, 'we have already been to all parts of the Mediterranean Sea'. This is a cross-border unit." During the operation in the Gaza Strip, the Missile Boat unit bombed dozens of targets from the sea and attacked terrorist targets. Similar to the Air Force, they also attacked with precision munitions.
Aside from the "operative" activities, the Missile Boat unit was the only artillery force to directly strike terrorist targets.
The unit is also busy gathering intelligence on the enemy and participating in more "conventional" missions with the infantry and armored corps.
"Just recently, the Paratroopers Brigade Commander, Colonel Amir Baram sailed with us. There is almost no armored corps or infantry force that doesn't ask us to accompany them on their missions, by sea," said Ben Hamo.
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