Israel’s military and U.S. Special Forces have simulated retaking a hijacked ship in a joint exercise amid heightened tensions between America and Iran over oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.
In the exercise, the two militaries practiced “regaining control of a hijacked ship and extracting forces from enemy territory,” Israeli officials said Tuesday. Commandos practiced parachuting and rappelling onto a ship and stormed a vessel called the Naval Rose during the exercise, footage released by the Army showed. The joint forces also practiced extracting a force from enemy territory, evacuating wounded, and other advanced tactics.
A unique element of the exercise was that the forces simulated “boarding and taking over a merchant ship carrying weapons and contraband,” IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said. He added that Israeli and American troops worked “shoulder to shoulder” during this part of the drill.
“Collecting intelligence, assessing, and together coming up with a tactical solution, this is something that is not usually done,” Conricus said.
Parachuting from a plane into the sea is a complicated maneuver and not one that the IDF performs regularly, reported the Times of Israel.
The drill, which took place on the nothern Israeli coast, has no connection to recent events and was scheduled as part of an annual training plan.
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have risen dramatically since the Trump administration pulled out of its nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed economic sanctions, causing Iran’s currency to sharply devalue.
Over the last several weeks, there have been six attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, which the U.S. has blamed on Iran. Iran has denied involvement.
Last month, the U.S. reportedly urged the British Royal Navy to seize an Iranian oil tanker for alleged European Union sanctions violations. Seemingly in retaliation, Iran then seized a UK-flagged tanker in the Gulf. Gibraltar’s chief minister released the Iranian tanker last week despite eleventh-hour legal efforts on the part of the U.S. to seize control of the Iranian vessel.
The Trump administration has attempted to set up an international security mission to protect maritime shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. So far, only the UK and Israel have agreed to join.
Barbara Boland is The American Conservative’s foreign policy and national security reporter. Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC.