Israel keeps a wary eye on Iranian warships

Ships near southern entrance to Suez Canal; not expected to pass through to Mediterranean for another couple days, Egyptian maritime source says.

Suez Canal 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
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 region.”
“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.
Israel 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.
The Iranian ships will pass Israel at a distance as they make their way towards Syria, where they are expected to dock for several months.