Defense Minister Benny Gantz unveiled satellite imagery on Tuesday of four Iranian ships sailing in the Red Sea in recent months during a presentation he delivered at an international summit in Greece.

Speaking at the 26th Annual Economist Government Roundtable in Athens, Gantz said: “We can confirm that Iran is methodically basing itself in the Red Sea with warships patrolling the southern region. In the last months, we have identified the most significant Iranian military presence in the area, in the past decade. It is a direct threat to international trade, energy supply, and the global economy.”

Gantz warned that this activity also constitutes “a direct threat to peace and stability in the maritime arena, which may affect the Mediterranean and beyond.”

The four military ships in the Red Sea were a Hengam-class landing ship, two Bandar Abbas-class replenishment ships – which are auxiliary fleet supply vessels – and a Mowj-class light frigate, oppositionist website Iran International reported.

The defense minister also discussed a recent Iranian test of a satellite launcher, saying that “just a week ago, Iran conducted yet another test of a satellite launcher from Semnan province. This test demonstrates that the Iranian regime has the capabilities to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles that may reach as far as the center of Europe. This is in addition to operational ballistic systems and UAVs that can already reach the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Israel and a number of Arab countries share concerns about Iran’s influence in the region as well as Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

Ahead of a visit to the Middle East by US President Joe Biden next week, Gantz has called for stronger security ties with Gulf Arab states that drew closer to Israel under a 2020 US-sponsored diplomatic drive.

The United States Naval Institute said last week that satellite imagery shows Iran is constructing a new stealth missile boat on the island of Qeshm in the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. The unidentified catamaran is similar to another new multi-hulled missile watercraft – a Shahid Soleimani-class missile corvette – but is noticeably smaller, Iran International reported.

On Saturday, Iran-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah sent three drones toward an Israeli offshore gas rig, which were intercepted by the IDF, “in order to sabotage the negotiations that are taking place on the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon.”

That event, he said, “Is in fact an attack on Lebanese citizens, who face extreme economic hardship,” and “shows that Hezbollah is an extension of the ayatollah regime – operating to destabilize the region and to cause miscalculations.”

Israel, Gantz warned, is monitoring the region and will act forcefully to defend its citizens and interests and target those who threaten or carry out attacks.

“At the same time, we are ready to work together with partners and build stability and prosperity in the area,” he added.

The defense minister also addressed the war in Ukraine, saying it has a “butterfly effect” well beyond its own boundaries.

“As the war in Ukraine rages on, we learn that each country must be able to defend itself. Each country must plan ahead, investing in force build-up and coordinating between the strategic and operational levels.

“The war also reminds us that security cooperation is vital for regional and global stability – whether it’s in Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, or the Middle East,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Gantz met with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts on the sidelines of the conference.

Source » israelhayom