Hebrew daily "Yediot Ahronot" reports that the IDF is preparing a plan to protect Israel's deepwater natural gas discoveries in its marine exclusive economic zone. Various Lebanese officials have been claiming that the Tamar gas field is in Lebanese waters, Hizbullah has been taking the opportunity to threaten Israel over the claims, and there are concerns of terror attacks.
"Yediot Ahronot" says that the Israel Navy will complete the plan by the end of the month, and it will cost NIS 150-200 million. The cabinet will have to approve the plan.
The IDF will not only protect the current discoveries, such as Tamar and Leviathan, but also areas where exploration rights have been granted - an area equal to 1.5 times Israel's land area. The area of the gas discoveries and potential discoveries has been declared a "strategic target", as the gas fields will meet Israel's energy needs for decades, as well as enable exports.
A senior military official told "Yediot Ahronot", "This is an important mission. For the IDF, it effectively means another front." The IDF will reportedly protect drilling rigs, ships, gas pipelines, and other infrastructure facilities.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 20, 2011
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