An India-bound cargo ship from Turkey with 25 crew members of various nationalities onboard was hijacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, media reports on Sunday claimed.
The Houthis had claimed that they seized an Israeli ship, however, this was denied by Israel. Furthermore, there were no Indians onboard the ‘Galaxy Leader’, according to information from the office of the Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli Defence Forces confirmed the hijack with a post on X that read, “The hijacking of a cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very grave incident of global consequence. The ship departed Turkey on its way to India, staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship.”
“Israel strongly condemns the Iranian attack against an international vessel. The ship, which is owned by a British company and is operated by a Japanese firm, was hijacked with Iran guidance by the Yemenite Houthi militia,” read the post made by the Israel PM’s office.
Meanwhile, news agency AFP quoted a Houthi official as saying, “We took an Israeli cargo ship to the Yemeni coast.” A maritime source in the coastal city of Hodeida said that the ship had been taken to the port city of Salif, according to AFP.
The office of Benjamin Netanyahu further posted, “Onboard the vessel are 25 crew members of various nationalities including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican. No Israelis are onboard.”
Meanwhile, The Times of Israel reported, “The Bahaman-flagged vessel is registered under a British company, which is partially owned by Israeli tycoon Abraham Ungar, who goes by Rami. The vessel was leased out to a Japanese company at the time of the hijacking.”
It may be noted that the Houthis, who are backed by Iran, have vowed to target vessels linked to Israel in the Red Sea. A Houthi military statement aired on the rebels’ Al-Masirah TV earlier this month read, “The Yemeni Armed Forces... confirm they will continue to carry out qualitative strikes with missiles and drones until the Israeli aggression stops.”
In 2014, the Houthis had seized Yemen’s capital Sanaa and now control large parts of the country. Earlier, they had carried out strikes in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which conducted a military campaign against the rebels.