Two Iranian war ships planned to sail through the Suez canal en route to Syria on Wednesday, Israel's foreign minister said, describing the move as a "provocation" by Tehran.
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency had reported on January 26 that Iranian navy cadets had been dispatched on a year-long training mission going via the Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea and on through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea.
It was not immediately clear why the ships were seeking to train in the Mediterranean, which would be in the neighborhood of arch-enemy Israel and of Syria, an ally of Iran, and Lebanon, where Iranian ally Hezbollah is powerful.
It was also not known when Iranian navy ships last passed through the Suez Canal, a crucial commercial and strategic link between Europe and the Middle East and Asia.
"Tonight, two Iranian warships are meant to pass through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea and reach Syria, something that has not happened in many years," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a Jerusalem speech distributed by his office.
"To my regret, the international community is not showing readiness to deal with the recurring Iranian provocations. The international community must understand that Israel cannot forever ignore these provocations."
Israel sees a major threat in Iran's nuclear programme and calls for its elimination, but the countries' geographical distance has kept them from open confrontation. Syria is one of Israel's neighboring foes and an ally of Tehran.