Two Iranian warships - a frigate and a small destroyer - completed their transit of Egypt’s Suez Canal on Tuesday evening and entered the Mediterranean Sea a short distance from Israel.
It marks the first time that the Iranian navy has entered the Mediterranean since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Israeli officials said that the two ships alone obviously do not pose any direct military threat, but insisted the move is a “major provocation.”
Israeli warships will be following and monitoring the Iranians from a distance as the latter make their way to Syria. The Iranian ships are expected to dock in Syria for a number of months.
Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said that sending the ships to the Mediterranean is part of Iran’s efforts “against the West for hegemony and control in the Middle Eats.” It is also meant to demonstrate to the surrounding Arab nations that Iran is a power to be reckoned with.
Commenting from Spain, Israeli President Shimon Peres said the naval maneuver is an opportunity to refocus attention on Iran’s defiant nuclear program, which threatens not only Israel, but the entire region and the world.