Israeli Navy Chief Steps Down



The commander-in-chief of the Israel Navy, Vice Admiral David Ben-Bashat, submitted his resignation on July 26, the latest of several senior Israeli military officers who have resigned or been dismissed in the aftermath of last summer's invasion of Lebanon. During operations against Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon the Israeli missile corvette Hanit was struck by a guided missile and heavily damaged.

Admiral Ben-Bashat became commander-in-chief of the Israel Navy in 2004. Previously he had held senior positions ashore and afloat, including command of several surface ships. He also served as defense attach in Singapore and attended the U.S. Naval War College at Newport, R.I.

The large missile corvette Hanit ("spear") was struck on July 21, 2006, some ten miles off the coast of Lebanon, by a C-802 missile launched from the shore. Apparently two missiles were launched, the first fired "high" to distract the ship's defensive systems and the second aimed at the Hanit.

The first missile struck a small merchant ship, reported to be a Cambodian-flag cargo ship with an Egyptian crew, steaming about 35 miles off the coast. The second missile hit the stern of the 1,275-ton Hanit. Four sailors were killed.

The Israel Navy apparently had no knowledge that there was a missile threat in the area. The C-802 missiles were probably produced in Iran, copied from a Chinese weapon, and launched by Syrian specialists.

Previously Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the Israel Defense Force chief of staff, Air Force General Dan Halutz, resigned, and other officers were dismissed in the wake of the poor Israeli military performance during the invasion of Lebanon.

(Photo: Hanit before she took a hit. The black spot on the waterline is exhaust.)

-- Norman Polmar

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