The Lebanese Connection: The Ties Linking Firm Building Israel's Submarine to Lebanese Official

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A gas platform seen from Israel's coast. Credit: Yaron Kaminsky

The daughter of the Lebanese defense minister is married to the brother of one of the owners of a company involved in building the new Sa’ar 6 warships for the Israel Navy.

Ann-Marie, the daughter of Lebanese Defense Minister Samir Moqbel, is married to one of the brothers of Iskandar Safa, the billionaire Lebanese businessman. Safa and his brother Akram own the Privinvest company, with offices and Beirut and Abu Dabi. This company holds 30 percent of the shares of another company, Abu Dhabi MAR, which is considered a leading shipbuilder in the Persian Gulf. In 2015 Abu Dhabi Mar changed its name to German Navy Yards Kiel, the same year Israel announced it was going to buy Sa’ar-6 corvettes from Germany to protect the country’s natural gas platforms. Channel 2 reported on the Lebanese connection on Wednesday.

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems is the company actually producing the four boats at a cost of 430 million euro, of which 115 million are coming from the German government. But German Navy Yards Kiel is providing consultancy services and is considered a subcontractor. According to the Israeli plan, previously reported in Haaretz, ThyssenKrupp will produce only the body of the Sa’ar 6, while all the weapons systems will be installed in Israel.

According to documents from the Lebanese Justice Ministry, which were obtained by MK Erel Margalit (Zionist Union), the daughter of the Lebanese defense minister holds a one percent stake in Privinvest, while Iskandar and Akram Safa control the rest of the firm. Margalit this week asked Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to investigate the issue and not make do with his own inquiry.

“A relationship of this type, in one of Israel’s most significant security transactions, is taking place in problematic circumstances that have a shadow hovering over them,” Margalit wrote. “It can’t be a company owned by relatives of the Lebanese defense minister is building ships that are meant to protect us from Hezbollah’s rocket threat and other hostile elements.”

Mendelblit recently ordered the launching of a police investigation into the purchase of submarines and boats from ThyssenKrupp. The company’s representative in Israel, Miki Ganor, is represented by attorney David Shimron, who is also Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer.

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