Why NATO? Because while Turkey is clearly escalating the current standoff with Israel, its continued membership in the Western military alliance is what defense and diplomatic officials in Israel believe will prevent Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan from making a move that could lead to a military confrontation with another Western country.

This does not mean that Israel is not concerned with the possibility that the Turkish navy will send one of its advanced Barbaros frigates armed with Harpoon missiles, torpedoes and surface-to-air missiles to Israeli waters. The scenario is so frightening since it could potentially lead to war with Turkey that defense officials preferred Tuesday to not even talk about it in hypothetical terms.

On the other hand, it is not being ignored by Israel and as one senior government official said: “This is a direct challenge and threat to Israeli sovereignty, which even if it is unlikely cannot be taken lightly.”