Israel is closely tracking an Iranian freighter believed to be carrying weaponry for Hamas that is currently docked in the Red Sea outside the Suez Canal, after Egypt refused to permit it to cross the waterway to the Mediterranean.
According to a report received at the Defense Ministry from the Pentagon, the US Navy recently boarded an Iranian vessel that was carrying artillery shells and other weaponry.
"This is a big test for the Egyptians," a senior defense official said. "So far the Egyptians have prevented the ship from crossing the Suez and we hope it will stay that way."
Defense officials said that Iran is trying to supply Hamas with new Grad-model Katyusha rockets and to replace high-grade explosives that were exhausted or destroyed by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead.
"There are two main smuggling routes," one official explained. "Some of the weaponry comes by ground from Somalia, Sudan and then into Egypt and through a tunnel into Gaza, while some comes by boat."
The boats sometimes unload the shipments in the Sinai's Port Said, where it is smuggled into Gaza by land. Other times, the shipments are dropped overboard in waterproof containers and are picked up by Palestinian fishermen or divers.