Yemen’s Houthi rebels seized what they believed to be an Israeli-linked cargo vessel traveling along the Red Sea on Nov. 19, escalating Middle East tensions as Israel continues its war against Hamas.
The ship had 25 people on board, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.
Houthi spokesman Yahya Sare’e issued a statement saying, “In solidarity with Palestinian people in the wake of the brutal Israeli aggression on Gaza, Yemen reiterates the threat against Israeli vessels in the Red Sea.”
* In solidarity with Palestinian people in the wake of the brutal Israeli aggression on Gaza, Yemen reiterates the threat against Israeli vessels in the Red Sea.
— Yahya Sare’e (@Yahya_Saree) November 19, 2023
The Houthis are vowing to target any ship displaying the Israeli flag, as well as any ships owned or operated by Israeli companies.
However, as The Guardian reported, the vessel was actually a British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship.
According to NTD, Netanyahu’s office said the ship was affiliated with an Israeli billionaire, and had a crew with a range of nationalities, including Bulgarian, Filipino, Mexican and Ukrainian, but no Israelis.
In a warning to other nations, Sare’e advised “all countries of the world” to withdraw its citizens working on the crews of Israeli-linked vessels, avoid shipping on or handling such ships, and to stay away from Israeli-linked ships.
Mohammed Abdul-Salam, the Houthis’ chief negotiator, said in a separate statement quoted by NTD that 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.”
A day after the incident, footage capturing the attack was posted to social media platform X. The dramatic video shows a military-style helicopter emblazoned with the flags of Yemen and Palestine dropping a Houthi squad onto the ship.
The men were armed with AK-47 rifles and raced to the ship’s bridge to gain control of the vessel before re-directing the ship’s path to Yemen.
Footage of Houthi forces hijacking the ship Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea yesterday. pic.twitter.com/PSFLpV4FLA
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) November 20, 2023
A U.S. military official called the seizure of the vessel a “flagrant violation of international law. We demand the immediate release of the ship and its crew. We will consult with our allies and UN partners as to appropriate next steps,” The Guardian reported.
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