Iran Vessels Drop Request to Pass Suez Canal

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Two Iranian warships have reportedly withdrawn their requests to pass through the Suez Canal, a senior canal official said. 

The Suez Canal Authority was "informed today about the cancellation of two scheduled trips of two Iranian warships and no new date was set to cross the Suez", the official told Reuters.

Thursday's decision came one day after Israeli officials expressed concerns that actions of the vessels were intended as an act of provocation.
 
"This is a provocation that proves that Iranian audacity and insolence are increasing," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday.

No explanation was given for the Iranian ships' decision to withdraw the application to transit the canal, which was at the center of two wars in 1956 and 1967.

On Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said "friendly states" had been updated on the issue, and "Israel will continue to follow the ships movements."

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed the presence of ships in the area of the canal, but would not say whether that was considered suspicious.

"There are two ships in the Red Sea," he said. "What their intention is, what their destination is, I can't say."

According to the Egyptian body that runs the canal, all vessels must get permission at least 24 hours before crossing the canal. Ahmed al-Manakhly, a senior Suez Canal official, said they received no such request from the vessels in question.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah -- Iran's proxy in Lebanon -- has threatened Israel. The leader of the radical Islamic group said its leaders should prepare for the day when he asks them to attack northern Israel and conquer Galilee.   

"I tell the fighters of the resistance that one day they might be asked to liberate the Galilee... The Israelis are afraid," Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said during "Resistance Martyrs Day" Wednesday, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak dismissed the threat, suggesting the terror group may need a reminder of the 2006 Lebanon War.
 
"Even though it's quiet and deterrence exists -- Hezbollah remembers the heavy beating they suffered from us in 2006 -- but it is not forever, and you may want to be called to enter again," Barak said.  

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