U.S. defense officials say a Navy vessel that is part of the new piracy task force intercepted and searched an Iranian-owned ship that officials feared was carrying arms to Hamas. It's unclear whether those suspicions were founded.
Two defense officials say the Cypriot-flagged commercial vessel was tracked by a U.S. Navy ship in the Red Sea over the weekend. One official says it was boarded with the consent of the vessel's crew on Monday and Tuesday.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
The search turned up ammunition that included artillery shells. But one official said that since Hamas is not known to use artillery, officials are now uncertain who the intended recipient was. They're asking Egypt to do another search when the ship arrives in port.
Israeli officials said they believe the ship was headed for Hezbollah, not Hamas, FOX News has learned.
The task force was unable to confiscate the arms, despite the violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution that prohibits Iran from selling arms, because there is no enforcement mechanism in place.
The officials said the shipment is believed to be on its way to Syria and there is little the international community can do to stop it.
Last week the Israeli Navy intercepted an Iranian ship loaded with medicine, food and clothing destined for Gaza and forced the vessel to head toward an Egyptian port, Iran's state television reported Wednesday.
During the conflict in Gaza, Iran condemned Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip and said Iran would stand by the Palestinians.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.