Israel’s defense minister said Tuesday that Iran is expanding its aggressive operations in the region in general, and in the naval arena in particular. 

At the Annual Economist Government Roundtable in Greece on Tuesday, Benny Gantz unveiled recent satellite images showing four Iranian military ships in the Red Sea, adding that the Islamic Republic has been “unusually” patrolling the region with its military ships.

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. 

“Today, we can confirm that Iran is methodically basing itself in the Red Sea, with warships patrolling the southern region,” he noted. 

Describing the Iranian presence as a direct threat to trade, energy and the global economy, Gantz said, “The presence of Iran's military forces in the Red Sea in recent months is the most significant in a decade.”

Referring to the recent test launch of a satellite carrier rocket, whose “technology could be used to develop a long-range intercontinental missile with a range of thousands of kilometers that could also threaten Central Europe,” he said, “Iran is a prime example of a widespread regional and global threat.”

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.

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