JERUSALEM : Israel intercepted a ship in the Red Sea carrying Iranian “advanced weaponry” bound for Palestinian militants in Gaza on Wednesday, the military said.

The military said the Syrian-made weapons were shipped overland to Iran and then onward towards Gaza by sea. Iran and Syria have long provided aid to both the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and to Palestinian armed groups.

“During a complex covert navy operation in the early hours of this morning, the navy intercepted a cargo vessel in international waters between Sudan and Eritrea that was carrying an Iranian shipment of advanced weapons,” Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters. “Dozens of surface-to-surface M302 Syrian-manufactured rockets were found (aboard),” Lerner said, adding that the crew of the ship, named the Klos-C, had “fully cooperated.”

The military said in an earlier statement it had “prevented an attempt to smuggle an Iranian shipment of advanced weaponry intended for terrorist organisations operating in the Gaza Strip.”

Israel earlier Wednesday claimed to have struck two fighters belonging to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese movement, as they tried to plant a bomb near the Israeli-Syrian frontier.

That incident came a week after the Jewish state reportedly bombarded positions of its arch-enemy Hezbollah inside Lebanon.

Iran is in talks with Western powers over its nuclear programme, which Israel has fiercely opposed, insisting that international sanctions against Tehran be maintained instead of easing them in return for its scaling back its atomic drive.