GAZA, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip denied on Wednesday any connections with an arms ship intercepted by the Israeli navy in the Red Sea which Israel said was bound for Gaza.
Spokesman for Hamas-run Ministry of Interior Islam Shahwan rejected in a press statement the Israeli accusations that the ship was heading to Gaza militants.
"These allegations are meant to justify the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip," Shahwan said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli army said its naval forces seized a ship in the Red Sea that was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied rockets that were intended to be delivered to militants in the Gaza Strip.
The army said the Iranian arms vessel was carrying medium-range missiles and was intercepted in the Red Sea about 930 miles away from the Israeli coast.
Israel imposes maritime and land blockade on Gaza since Islamist Hamas movement took over the territory in June 2007.
The recent weeks have witnessed a military escalation between Gaza militants and Israel, raising doubts of a possible collapse of a ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel brokered by Egypt in 2012.
Over the past five years, Hamas and other militant factions in Gaza fired thousands of homemade, Iranian-made and Russian-made missiles at Israel, killing and wounding dozens of Israelis.