Yemen’s Iranian proxy, the Houthis, have reportedly hijacked an Israeli-owned vessel in the Red Sea, according to a report by the Al Arabiya news outlet.
The “Galaxy Leader” is a vehicle carrier built in 2002, sailing under the flag of the Bahamas from Kanda, Japan. The Israeli government said Monday night that there were 25 crew members aboard the vessel, of various nationalities including sailors from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Philippines and Mexico.
No Israelis were aboard the ship.
“This is another act of Iranian terrorism and constitutes a leap forward in Iran’s aggression against the citizens of the free world, with international consequences regarding the security of the global shipping lanes,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement strongly condemning the attack.
US officials quoted by NBC News said that at around 1 pm Sunday local time, a helicopter hovered over the Galaxy Leader and several armed individuals rappelled down to the deck.
A US Defense Department official said, “We’re aware of the situation and are monitoring it closely.”
The ship is owned by the UK-based Ray Car Carriers company, headed by Israeli-British shipping magnate Dan David Ungar, 46, together with a British partner, and leased to a Japanese firm.
אירוע חטיפת ספינת המשא על ידי הח׳ותים סמוך לתימן בדרום הים האדום הוא אירוע חמור מאוד ברמה העולמית. מדובר בספינה שיצאה מטורקיה בדרכה להודו עם צוות אזרחי בינלאומי, ללא ישראליים.
לא מדובר בספינה ישראלית
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 19, 2023
“The hijacking of the cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very serious event on a global level,” the IDF said in a Hebrew-language statement on X. “This is a ship that left Turkey on its way to India with an international civilian crew, without Israelis. “This is not an Israeli ship,” the IDF added.
The vessel was heading for the port of Pipavav, India, where it was expected to dock on November 24, according to MyShipTracking.com.
The Houthis have been launching long-range ballistic missiles and combat drones at the Jewish State to express their solidarity with Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization.
The group has also warned it will target any vessel in the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait sailing under the Israeli flag, or owned, operated or crewed by Israeli citizens.
“Our eyes are open to constantly monitor and search for any Israeli ship in the Red Sea, especially in Bab al-Mandab, and near Yemeni regional waters,” Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi said in a speech posted Sunday on Telegram.
Hamas has come under attack by Israel Defense Forces following the terror group’s invasion of southern Israel, and the terrorists’ torture and massacre of more than 1,200 people and abduction of some 240 hostages.