Back in 2009, Israel discovered huge natural gas reserves just off its Mediterranean coast. Those reserves have been estimated to be in the region of 950 billion cubic meters, and a surge in exploration means that by the end of the year there should be 18 new platforms drilling for gas.
The growth of the fields offers a new problem to Israel. The investment going into the new platforms, and the economic importance that they are growing to represent, must be protected. The offshore platforms are ripe targets for attack, and that means that Israel's underfunded navy has just found itself in demand.
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From the outset, as reassurance to foreign firms investing in the development of the reserves, the Israeli government has stated its intentions to protect the new gas fields.
Captain Ilan Lavi, head of the navy's planning department, explained that "the gas fields are a strategic asset and Israel will defend them. They may not be too complicated to attack, but we are aware of the threats and are prepared for them."