UPDATE 2-Israeli sends extra warships to patrol Red Sea

Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:35pm GMT

* Two more Israeli ships in Red Sea not unusual - army

* Iran sending submarine and warship to Red Sea

* Iran says it often has presence in Red Sea to ward off piracy (Adds Israeli minister says Egypt also acting in Sinai, background)

By Ori Lewis

JERUSALEM, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Israel said on Tuesday it had sent two extra warships to patrol the Red Sea but it downplayed reports that they were connected to an Egyptian sweep of the Sinai peninsula for militants.

A military official said the deployment was routine but declined to say what operational duties the ships were performing.

"I can confirm that there are two naval craft in the Red Sea. This is not unusual," the official told Reuters.

Homefront Defence Minister Matan Vilnai said Israeli security forces were on very high alert in the country's south and that Egyptian troops were acting against gunmen in the Sinai.

"There is a very specific alert that an Islamic Jihad organisation wants to carry out an attack on the Egyptian border and we are taking this alert very seriously. It should be emphasised that the Egyptians are also acting," he said.   Continued...

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