The hijacked ship

Houthis hijack Israeli-owned ship in Red Sea


Sun, 19-11-2023 07:05 PM, Aden

Red Sea (South24)

The Israeli government said today that the Yemeni Houthi militia had hijacked the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea, under Iranian direction.

Netanyahu's office denied that the Galaxy Leader was Israeli, but Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the ship is registered under the British company Galaxy Maritime Limited, which is partially owned by Israeli businessman Rami Ungar.

Posting on X, Netanyahu's spokesperson said: "The ship is owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese company. It was hijacked under Iranian direction by the Houthi militia in Yemen."

"There are 25 individuals on board the ship of different nationalities, including Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Filipinos and Mexicans but there are no Israelis," the statement added.

The Israeli spokesperson described the incident as "a leap forward in Iranian hostilities." He warned that it "creates international repercussions on the security of international shipping lanes."

The Israel Defense Forces said that the cargo ship, which was carrying vehicles on board, "departed Turkey on its way to India with an international civilian crew, without Israelis."

In an official statement, the Houthi military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Sarea, said: “We carried out a military operation in the Red Sea, where we took an Israeli ship and its crew to the Yemeni coast.”

"We call on all countries whose nationals work in the Red Sea to refrain from working with Israeli ships. Our operations only threaten Israeli-owned ships," he added.

Sarea released another statement this morning in which he said that Houthi forces would target ships flying the Israeli flag, ships operated by Israel, and ships owned by Israel.

It should be noted that the Galaxy Leader was sailing under the flag of the Bahamas. 

The Houthi spokesman also called on countries around the world to withdraw their employees from Israeli ships, avoid shipping goods on them, and keep other ships away from them.

NBC, reporting on the events, quoted three US officials as saying that the Houthis used a helicopter to hijack the cargo ship, rappelling down onto the ship’s deck at around 1pm local time on Sunday. 

As of Sunday evening, United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reports that they have lost communication with the vessel, after acknowledging the ongoing incident three hours earlier. 

The Palestinian Jihad movement has blessed the operation. Al Jazeera quoted a statement from the movement in which it said: “We applaud the support and assistance of our brothers in Yemen.”

Commenting on the incident, the former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Mohsen Rezaei, told Al-Mayadeen TV that the Houthis could send half a million fighters to Palestine if the situation worsens.

On November 14th, Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi announced in a video speech that any Israeli ship crossing the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait would be targeted "in response to the massacres against civilians in Gaza."

Related: Houthi leader demands land crossing to fight Israel 

Over the past few years, cargo ships owned by shipping company Ray Shipping, affiliated with Rami Ungar, were subjected to several attacks in the Gulf of Oman, which the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was accused of being involved in.

In February 2021, an explosion struck the Israeli ship MV Helios Ray, owned by Rami Ungar, as it was heading from the port of Dammam in Saudi Arabia to Singapore in the Gulf of Oman.

In July of the same year, two crew members of the Mercer Street ship, partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer, were killed in an attack off the coast of Oman.

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