An India-bound cargo ship, Galaxy Leader, was hijacked on Sunday in the southern Red Sea by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, reported AP. The vessel en route from Turkey to India is believed to be having 25 people on board.
Mohammed Abdul-Salam, the Houthis’ chief negotiator and spokesman, said in a statement that the Israelis only understand “the language of force”.
“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,” he added. “This is the beginning.”
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office rejected the claim.
Criticizing the hijack of the cargo ship Galaxy Leader by the Houthis rebels, Netanyahu’s office said the vessel was owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese firm, without naming either of those.
There were no Israelis among the ship’s 25 crew members, it said.
The Israeli government further said the crew members of the ship included people from Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Philippines and Mexico.
Netanyahu’s office blamed Sunday’s cargo ship hijack on Tehran, which it said is endangering global shipping lanes.
“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. This is a ship that left Turkey on its way to India with an international civilian crew without Israelis,” Daniel Hagari, Israeli military spokesperson, was quoted as saying.
Several media reports have indicated that the ship is under the ownership of Ray Car Carriers, founded by Abraham “Rami” Ungar, who is known as one of the richest men in Israel citing ownership details in public shipping databases.
Houthi rebels have threatened to strike Israel since its war against Hamas started in early October, and have launched failed missile attacks that were believed to have targeted Israel. Sunday’s incident marks the first big escalation in the threat posed by Houthis against global maritime shipping since the latest conflict began.
Earlier, a spokesperson of Houthi rebels called on other countries on social media platform X (formerly called Twitter) to withdraw their citizens working on Israeli vessels. The rebels are believed to be getting training, technical expertise and increasingly sophisticated weapons — including drones, ballistic and cruise missiles — from Iran.
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Updated: 21 Nov 2023, 06:00 PM IST