Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels hijacked a cargo ship in the Red Sea and took 25 crew members as hostages.
The Houthis revealed they had hijacked the cargo ship, Galaxy Leader, over its alleged connection to Israel and said they would continue to target ships that were either owned by or linked to the Israelis, according to the Associated Press. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the Houthis for the hijacking of the Bahaman-flagged ship, which is co-owned by Israeli billionaire Abraham Ungar.
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed the hijacking in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, labeling it as a “grave incident of global consequence” and denied that it was an Israeli ship.
“All ships belonging to the Israeli enemy or that deal with it will become legitimate targets,” the Houthis said in a statement.
Reports: Yemen's Houthis have seized the Israeli cargo ship Galaxy Leader, belonging to an Israeli businessman pic.twitter.com/sFLanXRZw6
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) November 19, 2023
“The detention of the Israeli ship is a practical step that proves the seriousness of the Yemeni armed forces in waging the sea battle, regardless of its costs and costs,” Mohammed Abdul-Salam, the chief negotiator for the Houthis said in a statement. “This is the beginning.”
The Galaxy Leader reportedly departed from Turkey and had been traveling to India, the IDF wrote in its statement.
NYK Line, the ship’s Japanese operator, confirmed that there had been no cargo when the ship was hijacked and that none of the crew members were of Israeli nationality.
Crew members were reportedly from the Philippines, Romania, Ukraine, Mexico, and Bulgaria, NYK Line said.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno confirmed the Japanese government was negotiating with Houthi rebels for the release of the hostages, in addition to communicating with Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran, and Israel.
Within the past month, missiles or drones believed to have been aimed at Israel, have been intercepted. In one such instance, two Egyptian towns were hit by drones which the Israeli government said the Houthis sent to strike Israel, according to Reuters.
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