JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Israeli Navy seized hundreds of tons of weapons believed sent from Iran and bound for the Hezbollah terrorist organization early Wednesday.
It was the largest cache of weapons ever seized in Israel's history.
The German ship Francop was flying an Antiguan flag when Israeli commandos boarded the vessel about 100 miles off the coast of Israel.
More than 500 tons of weapons were estimated to be stashed in the vessel en route to Hezbollah -- one of Israel's most ruthless enemies.
Thousands of rockets and various shells were hidden in Iranian shipping containers on the vessel. The containers carried enough weapons to conduct operations for a month.
The arms shipment was 10 times larger than that of the Karine A -- the Iranian arms shipment bound for the Palestinians and seized by Israel in 2002.
Israeli Army spokeswoman Lt.-Col. Avital Leibovich said it was clear the shipment came from Iran.
"The shipping certificate stated clearly that the port from which the ship left was an Iranian port," Leibovich said.
Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Iran is trying to hurt Israel's civilian population through its messengers -- Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel's foreign ministry is hoping to use the seizure to focus international pressure on Iran.
Some described the amount of weapons seized as astronomical, but senior military sources warned it is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
Hezbollah denies Israel's claims the arms were meant for them. However, an IDF spokesman told CBN News the shipping certificate showed its final destination was Lebanon and that this route is one of the main ways Iran smuggles its weapons to Hezbollah.