Israeli warships sail through Suez Canal

By Jessica Elgot, July 16, 2009

Israel has sent two warships through the Egyptian-controlled Suez Canal between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

The move appeared designed to signal Israel's military strength to Iran.

Israeli ships often use the canal, but the government rarely publicises this.

Israel has said repeatedly that it will not rule out the possibility of taking military action against Iran over their nuclear weapons plans.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit confirmed that the warships had the right to use the canal provided they had no aggressive intent towards Egypt, under a a long-standing treaty.He would not comment on whether the manoeuvre was intended as a political signal.

An Israeli official said deployment of the two ships was linked to the Israeli navy's "recent activities around the Red Sea".

Shlomo Brom, of the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies, said: "I believe (the news) was likely leaked on purpose in order to signal to Iran that Israel has the capability of reaching them."

Last updated: 5:00pm, July 17 2009