Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed the seizure of what they allege to be an Israeli cargo ship in the Red Sea, asserting that all vessels associated with Israel will be considered legitimate targets for their armed forces. A spokesperson for the Houthi group, Yahya Saree, declared their intent to persist in military operations against Israel until the alleged aggression against Gaza ceases. Israel countered this claim, stating that the seized vessel was British-owned and Japanese-operated, denouncing the incident as an “Iranian act of terrorism” with implications for global maritime security.
The Israeli military emphasised the gravity of the situation, describing the hijacking by the Houthis in the southern Red Sea as a significant global incident. Contrary to Houthi assertions, Israel clarified that the ship, en route from Turkey to India, was not Israeli and was crewed by civilians of various nationalities. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson dismissed Israel’s accusations as baseless and a means of evading their own challenges, asserting that regional resistance groups act in the interest of their respective countries.
The Houthis had previously issued threats against Israeli vessels, launching missile and drone attacks against Israel. A US military official condemned the seizure as a flagrant violation of international law and demanded the immediate release of the ship and its crew. The vessel, identified as the Galaxy Leader, belonged to Ray Car Carriers, a company associated with Israeli businessperson Abraham “Rami” Ungar. Japan’s Nippon Yusen (NYK) expressed concern for the safety of the crew, comprising individuals from the Philippines, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, and Mexico.
The Houthi leader had previously announced vigilance in monitoring and searching for Israeli ships in the strategically vital waters of the Red Sea, irrespective of their flags.