Yemeni Houthi Rebels Seize Israeli-Owned Cargo Ship

By Yoni Weiss

Saudi media outlets reported on Sunday that Yemeni Houthi rebels in the Red Sea have reportedly gained control over a cargo ship, partially owned by an Israeli businessman, holding captive its crew.

The ship was identified as the Galaxy Leader, transporting cars in the Red Sea. It sails under Bahama’s flag and is has its home port in Nassau.

Israel denied that any of its nationals were aboard the cargo ship. Officials accused Iran of being behind the action.

“We strongly condemn the Iranian attack against an international ship. The ship, owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese company, was hijacked on Iranian instructions by the Houthi militia in Yemen,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“On board the ship are 25 crew members of different nationalities, including: Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Filipinos and Mexicans. No Israelis were present on the ship. This is another act of Iranian terrorism that expresses a leap forward in Iran’s aggression against the citizens of the free world, and creates international implications regarding the security of global shipping lanes.”

The IDF said that the ship had departed Turkey and was on its way to India with an international crew.

“It is not an Israeli ship,” the IDF said.

Israeli media reports said the ship was partially owned by Israeli businessman Rami Unger.

Saudi media reports quoting the Iran-backed Houthis said the ship was seized in an area of the Red Sea between Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The Houthis claimed the crew were Israeli.

Israel has bolstered its naval presence in the Red Sea area following repeated missile and drone attacks from Yemen.

The IDF said that missile boats were deployed “in accordance with the assessment of the situation, and as part of the increased defense efforts in the region.”

A spokesman for Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi military, Yahya Sarea, said earlier Sunday the group will target all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or carrying the Israeli flag, according to the group’s social media channel.

The spokesman called on all countries to withdraw their citizens working on the crews of any such ships.

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