Suez Canal 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Israel Navy will keep a close eye on two Iranian warships that are not expected to enter the Suez Canal before Tuesday or Wednesday, according to maritime sources in Egypt.
On Sunday, the frigate Alvand and the supply ship Kharq were still near the southern entrance to the canal.
The Khark has 250 crew members and can carry three helicopters and the Alvand
is armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
told the cabinet on Sunday that Iran was sending the ships through the canal in
a move aimed at exploiting the current instability in Egypt. He called the move
“grave” and referred to it as an “Iranian attempt to expand its influence in the
“I think that today, we can see what an unstable region we live
in, a region in which Iran tries to exploit the situation that has been created
in order to expand its influence by passing warships through the Suez Canal,”
Netanyahu said, during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
Navy ships have traversed the canal in the past, and in at least one case, an
Israeli Dolphin-class submarine also passed through in what appeared to be a
message to Iran. Some foreign media reports say that Dolphins can fire
nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.
Israeli defense officials said that the
ships did not pose a threat to the Israel Navy which would be watching the
Iranian vessels from a distance and would not engage them.
ships will pass Israel at a distance as they make their way towards Syria, where
they are expected to dock for several months.