Israel has viewed with "gravity" the dispatch of two Iranian warships to the Mediterranean. Iran says the dispatch is "routine". The warships are expected to pass through the Suez Canal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees the move as Iranian power play and the Foreign Ministry in Tel Aviv has called the vessel deployment "provocative". The two ships will pass through the canal following permission granted from Egypt, where recently an uprising to remove President Hosni Mubarack from power succeeded leaving the army in charge.
The warships are en route to Syria and using the waterway will be a first for Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The manoeuvres however have clearly unsettled Netanyahu, who said, "Today we are witnessing the instability of the region in which we live and in which Iran is trying to profit by extending its influence by dispatching two warships to cross the Suez Canal," he added, "Israel views with gravity this Iranian initiative and other developments that reinforce what we have said in past years about the Israel's security needs."
Iran has played down the warships tour, saying they have already visited Oman and Saudi Arabia. An Iranian diplomat said, "This will be a routine visit, within international law, in line with the cooperation between Iran and Syria, who have strategic ties." He added, "The ships will spend a few days in Syrian ports for training purposes."
A Suez Canal senior official has told AFP the vessels have not passed through the waterway yet and he privately expects them to pass through on Monday morning, as reported in tipnews.
The ships are not thought to be carrying weapons, chemical materials or any nuclear substances. Israel still firmly believes Iran are trying to exploit the recent instability in the region by the dispatch of the vessels.