Israel National Security Adviser: Terror Groups Tried to Strike Israeli Offshore Rig During 2014 Gaza War

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Off Haifa coast, oil rig at enormous Leviathan natural gas field.
An oil rig in the Leviathan natural gas field off the Haifa coast.Credit: Albatross

Terror groups attempted to sabotage an Israeli offshore platform in the summer of 2014, National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen told a Knesset hearing on Sunday, during a discussion about the controversial natural gas deal.

“During Operation Protective Edge there were attempts to hit a drilling platform, and to our relief the weapon used was not precise enough to hit the rig,” Cohen told a session of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, referring to the war in the Gaza Strip last year.

He went on to warn that “the weapons that are in the hands of the terror organizations that surround us today are already far more sophisticated and precise, making us more vulnerable now.”

In addition to the importance of dealing with redundant infrastructure and installing backup systems on the rigs in the event of technical failure or sabotage, Cohen stressed the NSC’s focus on geopolitics with respect to the sale of Israel's natural gas reserves.

“Israel’s place in the Middle East is increasingly challenged, and it will be reinforced by cooperation with our neighbors, particularly Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. It is in our interest to forge strategic economic relationships with these states,” he explained.

National Security Adviser Cohen, addressing a session of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee on the subject of the natural gas deal.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) asked Cohen why the NSC supports the deal with the gas partners if it rejects the directives with respect to increasing infrastructure redundancy, waives the requirement to lay a second gas pipeline to the shore, and permits the export of gas from the Tamar gas field even before the Leviathan field is in operation.

Cohen replied that it was not the mandate of the NSC to judge whether the agreement with the partners is a good one.

“For me, it is important to extract the gas as soon as possible and to take care of our relations with the other states. We also face the resumption of negotiations on defense aid to Israel because our natural gas industry ... is expensive to protect. The greater the cash reserves that are made available due to the sale of gas exports," Cohen said, "the easier it will be to shoulder the burden of protecting the field.”

In response, Yacimovich retorted: “That’s absurd. In a minute we’ll be hearing that taxes should be raised in order to fill the state coffers.”

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