Israel's submarines are insurance against Iran, other enemies - Gallant

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is seen attending a memorial for the 69 crew members of the Dakar submarine lost when the submarine sank in 1968, at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, on January 22, 2023.

Yoav Gallant: “Israeli submarines act in unknown locations places… playing critical joint operational roles” with other arms of the IDF for many years. 

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday said that the country’s submarines are insurance for Israeli security against Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and other security threats.

Speaking on Mount Herzl in a memorial service for the 69-member Dakar submarine crew lost when the submarine sank disastrously in 1968, he said, “submarine crews today are continuing the same strategic mission of the Dakar crew. Much of the activity of the Shayetet 7 submarine units is kept classified from Israel’s citizens.”

“We face a long list of threats - with the Iranian threat being at the forefront - which challenge us in both nearby areas and far off areas. The submarines are insurance for the State of Israel’s security, and they have a vital hand in confronting the threats surrounding us,” he said.

The defense minister continued, saying “the submarines act in unknown locations places… playing critical joint operational roles” with other arms of the IDF for many years. 

Dakar in 1944 as the Royal Navy's HMS Totem (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

What are the capabilities and history of Israel's submarines?

According to foreign sources, Israel has submarines that can fire nuclear missiles, giving it a “second strike” capability for destroying any enemy who might think to try a surprise attack against Israel’s military centers on land

This second strike capability provides a tremendous deterrent against any enemy force trying to strike Israel in any existentially damaging way.

Waxing poetic, Gallant said, "there are disasters which are engraved in the foundational walls of a nation. Incidents that transform into having eternal meaning in the painful side of a society's story, our story. The journey which was never completed, the journey of the Dakar, was a national disaster of that level."

IDF Deputy Chief Of Staff Maj.-Gen. Amir Baram said at the ceremony, “the Dakar warriors were daring…and devoted to the State” of Israel.

“Their battles were concealed from the public, but they were ready to act against any threat near or far – even at the cost of their lives,” he said.

Further, Baram said, “the conflict with Iran is expanding into every arena…we are determined and persistent with the same spirit which led the Dakar crew. The IDF navy’s dominance has grown in recent years and there are many complex operations day after day.”

Moreover, the IDF deputy chief said, his forces have “stopped Hezbollah attacks and Gaza attacks and continue to stop the growing power of Iranian proxies.”

In addition, he said that the navy “guarantees the stability of the Israeli economy through maintaining the freedom of the seas and access to seaports.”

Referring to the navy providing some of Israel’s deterrence against some of the Jewish state’s enemies, he said “people are behind these phrases” like deterrence.

Next, Baram talked about the difficulty of submarine crews needing to “spend long weeks away from land, exposed to both physical and emotional dangers,” saying that sometimes they are strengthened by remembering the fearlessness of the Dakar crew.

IDF Navy Chief Maj.-Gen. David Sa'ar Salama said that the IDF’s submariners have “had many successes in the ‘war between wars’” in taking away areas of activity (a reference to weapons smuggling) from IDF enemies and improving the navy’s overall readiness for any future conflict.

In 1999, 31 years after the Dakar sank, some of its remains were found 3,000 meters under the sea between Crete and Cyprus.

Even after that discovery, there is no definitive explanation as to why the submarine sank.

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