Israeli naval vessel (archive image)
Israeli naval vessel (archive image)Moshe Shai/Flash90

A huge earthquake hits northern Israel, killing thousands and knocking out infrastructure -- this doomsday scenario was the premise for a multi-national naval drill this week.

Sailors from France, Greece and the United States arrived on their vessels and were joined by the Israelis off the Israeli port city of Haifa for the four-day exercise, called Mighty Waves.

They simulated extracting wounded civilians to sea for treatment, fishing people out of the water and transferring humanitarian aid, with representatives of seven other navies taking part as observers.

It was the first time Israel hosted and organized a drill of such scope, said Lieutenant Colonel Liav Zilberman.

One of the main goals was "of course to learn from these navies" and having them "learn from us", he said.

Israel is always looking to boost its profile among Western allies as well as reinforce its image as the Middle East's most powerful military, and the drill was a chance to do that, said Eran Lerman, former deputy to Israel's national security adviser.

"The very fact that Israel is perceived by key global players as a state that can and should be cooperated with militarily conveys a message of deterrence to potential enemies, while strengthening the increasing ties with like-minded Arab states," said Lerman, now vice president of the Jerusalem
Institute for Strategy and Security.