How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France

How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France

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The story of the "Mistrals" inspired memories of one historical fact. In 1969, the French imposed sanctions on the Jewish state for the supply of arms. And Israeli special forces under the cover of night hijacked five built and paid rocket ships from a shipyard in the city of Cherbourg.

A special operation of a naval subversive unit for hijacking five warships from France was included in Israeli military textbooks, briefly mentioned in Russian books on the history of special services, but our general reader is almost unknown because of the scarcity of publications on this topic. Meanwhile, then, 45 years ago, an extraordinary precedent was created, without which the history of world sanctions processes would look very dim.

A couple of years ago, at the International Film Festival “The Sea Calls!”, The author of these lines asked a question about the historical, unique hijacking to the rear admiral,To the former commander of one of the first nuclear submarines of France, Jean-Marie Mate: how was it, perhaps, any personal memories (he was a fleet lieutenant at the time)? But he only laughed in response: they say, is it worth it to stir up the past ...

True, some of the pictorial details of the incident could have been cited by the Russian publicist, maritime historian, and expert in international maritime law, Captain I rank Sergei Aprelev. In the French Ministry of Defense after this hijacking, several generals and admirals lost their positions, and the protection of military shipyards and naval bases in this country was raised to an inaccessible height.

So, how it was. Israel, having a maritime border and a coastline of 273 kilometers, was repeatedly subjected to raids from the sea in the 1960s. And the country ordered a series of French rocket and artillery boats at the Cherbourg Shipyard Construction Mecaniques de Normandie. At that moment, by the way, France generally provided up to three-quarters of the arms supplies to the Jewish state. But the French began to restore the traditionally close ties with the Arab world - the very one with whom Israel had incessantly fought for various reasons, it suffices to recall several bloody Arab-Israeli wars.

In 1967, France refused to supply Israel with offensive weapons, and in September 1969, in general, it imposed a full embargo on the arms trade. And built in Cherbourg, Israeli boats and "stuck". Something like the first “Mistral” built for Russia is now “hanging out” ...
Interestingly, the French are exactly the same boat, which was then built for Israel, actively supplied to the Maghreb countries. And the missile boats were badly needed by Israel to counter exactly the same boats that appeared in service with Arab countries. Boats were just necessary for Israel - he suffered a rather shameful defeat at sea. Pushed to decisive action and such a fact.

Two years before the described events with the hijacking, on October 21, 1967, two missile boats of Soviet-built project 183R with an Egyptian crew (whether Soviet instructors were there, we keep silent), classified by NATO as Komar and equipped with two P-15 missiles each, discovered and attacked the Israeli destroyer Eilat. Four missiles - and four accurate hits. In the end - the death of the destroyer, 47 people from 197 crew members and 41 wounded. And this is from some kind of “mosquitoes”, the total displacement of which was ten times less than that of the destroyer.

Within only a few minutes, on October 21, 1967, the command of the Israeli navy realized its unwillingness to conduct naval operations. How can you fight at sea if you are powerless against a kind of “mosquito” but toothy rocket-cutter fleet? The Israelis and the Egyptians were in shock: some from the monstrous tragedy, others from surprise.
As a result, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir instructed to take urgent measures! It is necessary to pay tribute - the Israeli leadership did not stand on its hind legs and did not curry favor with the Western world, including France. The Israeli command did not weigh the permissibility of each shot at any enemy with an eye on the UN Security Council (and even now it doesn’t really listen to it, and it doesn’t care about the West, like, excuse me, some ...).

The Israelis chose France, which had such projects. Urgently ordered 12 units with full weapons. Some ships managed to pick up before the introduction of the embargo. And then such a bummer - sanctions! The Israelis did not have time to collect the remaining seven boats built in Cherbourg. Two boats managed to lead in early January 1969 during the test.But it was impossible to get the remaining five from France.

And in early October 1969, Golda Meir personally gave a secret order to conduct a special operation "Cherbourg", directed, in fact, against France. Already paid by Israel, but the “hanging” missile boats were bought by a certain Panamanian company - to put it this way, a one-day firm set up to ward off possible suspicions. The plot is detective, adventure and exciting - it is strange that some series about this has not yet appeared. In any case, in the Russian version of this, I don’t remember something ...

As part of the implementation of Operation Cherbourg's plan, more than 70 officers and sailors were sent to France to train in the management and maintenance of new military courts. But the plan of hijacking, naturally, was kept in deep secrecy even from the participants in the operation themselves. They were told that they were allegedly being taught to service the seven boats that Israel managed to get from France even before the sanctions.

Israeli sailors once a week under the guise of exercises went out on boats at sea and returned late at night. No one from the leadership of the shipyard in Cherbourg suspected that there was a carefully thought out plan behind it.In addition, for three weeks before the operation, the engines of the boats were launched at full speed every night so that the residents of Cherbourg got used to the noise and did not pay attention to it.

In the last days before the operation, all the necessary preparations were completed in a hurry. The operation itself was scheduled for December 25, 1969 on Christmas Eve. In addition, another clever trick was done. The Israelis managed to create the appearance that Tel Aviv allegedly accepted the loss of boats and wants to claim “good” compensation from Paris - or, at worst, sell it to someone, well, not to suffer losses, after all. It is difficult to say whether the participants in those negotiations had a theatrical education, but they performed their role perfectly!
And Israel, as it were, “sold” the boats to the Norwegian firm “Startbott & Weil” to search for oil in the Middle East - an absolutely lime office that has never been in nature. After all, Israel had the international right to use "non-military" use of ships - nevertheless, excuse me, I’m paid for what I want, I turn it over.

On the night of December 25, 1969, “representatives of the Norwegian company” boarded five boats, as two drops of water resembling the same Israeli sailorswho have studied materiel for more than a month. On Christmas Eve, almost all local residents were already sitting at festive tables and indulging in fun. And at two o'clock in the morning, when the French raised Christmas toasts, all five missile boats without lights and identification flags left the port of Cherbourg and entered the stormy stormy sea. Their disappearance was discovered only after a day! Together with the combat boats, naturally, those 72 Israeli sailors disappeared without a trace.

For a whole week, before the arrival of the boats in the Israeli port of Haifa on December 31, this operation was in the center of media attention. All were amazed at the unheard-of audacity of the Israelites. The scandal was unheard of ... The public frankly had fun and gradually approved of the Israelis, but the government of the republic was in anger. French sources claim that the then Minister of Defense even ordered the Chief of General Staff to raise planes in the air, catch up with the fugitives and strike the boats. He refused to do it at all, saying that he would rather retire.

In general, Operation Cherbourg, of course, led for some time to an acute crisis in Israeli-French relations.But in the end, the French decided that it was too late to wave their fists, and when Israel finally once again famously smashed the gallant forces of the Arabs, they reconciled with him again.

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  • How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France

    How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France

    How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France

    How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France

    How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France

    How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France

    How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France

    How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France

    How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France

    How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France

    How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France How Israeli special forces hijacked five rocket ships from France