Four months after the IDF first raised its alertness level in northern Israel, the Navy’s 914 Squadron remains ready to respond to any threat along the border with Lebanon.
Despite the quiet that is felt by residents, “there’s nothing quiet when commanding an operational squadron, especially in the North,” Commander of Squadron 914 Lt.-Col. Kfir Raveh told The Jerusalem Post.
Raveh entered his position last year, shortly before Hezbollah fired three anti-tank missiles towards IDF positions along the border.
“I saw how within minutes the area could become tense,” he said.
A year later, the same scenario is playing out.
Though the military is on high alert and roadblocks have been set up along the roads close to the border, the residents are going about their daily routine.
“This year, we have also had several challenges in the maritime arena,” Raveh said, adding that one main challenge is making sure troops stay alert at all times, even when it seems quiet.
“Hezbollah is our main threat and we have to always be prepared to go from 0-100.”
Responsible for the northern sector, Squadron 914 guards the border between Israel and Lebanon and the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) which brings in 90% of Israel’s imports on Dvora patrol boats.
The navy is also tasked with securing the natural gas drilling rigs that are in Israel's EEZ, clear targets for enemies on Israel’s northern border. The IDF believes that Hezbollah has long-range missiles that can hit the rigs, which supply a large amount of the electricity consumed in Israel.
“We are protecting Israel and its EZZ from the threat of Hezbollah. These are our main responsibilities. It’s not this or that – we know how to deal with both of them and protect them simultaneously,” Raveh said.
Divided into three areas, Haifa in the North and Ashdod and Eilat in the South, the Navy must use everything at its disposal to gather intelligence and keep the waters safe from any threat, including working with the Air and Ground Forces – in any weather condition.
According to Raveh, though the Navy’s ties with the Air Force have always been strong, the ties with the ground forces have increased in the past few years.
And that cooperation is extremely necessary when dealing with Hezbollah, an enemy which can target both ground and maritime targets.
Israel has been bracing for a possible attack by the terrorist group after an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria on July 20 killed one of its members.
Hezbollah said at the time that a response to the deadly strike was "inevitable,” leading Israel to deploy troop reinforcements along with advanced intelligence and precision fire systems to its northern borders and ban military vehicles from driving on roads adjacent to the borders.
According to Raveh, though his squadron is ready and prepared to respond to any incident at sea, he recommends that Hezbollah think twice about attacking Israel.
“Hezbollah really has to consider if they want to act because our response will make them understand that it wasn’t worth it,” he warned. “It’s better that Hezbollah not test the IDF's response. They will meet a very strong and powerful military – on the ground, in the air and at sea.”