Yemen’s Houthis say they have taken control of an Israeli-owned ship in the southern Red Sea, with Israel describing the incident as an “Iranian act of terrorism” with consequences for international maritime security.
A Houthi military spokesman confirmed to Al Jazeera on Sunday that its fighters hijacked the British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship.
At least 22 people were onboard the Galaxy Leader – reported to be partly owned by an Israeli businessman – which was en route from Turkey to India.
“We have received confirmation from a Houthi official that they hijacked this ship. Earlier today [Sunday], they announced the beginning of operations to attack Israeli-flagged ships. They warned international sailors not to work for such companies,” said Al Jazeera’s Mohammed al-Attab, reporting from Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.
“We are treating the crew in accordance with Islamic norms and principles,” said Yemen’s Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree in a statement later on Sunday.
He renewed the warning that any ship belonging to Israel or those who support it will be a legitimate target for Houthi forces.
“We confirm our continuation of military operations against [Israel] until the aggression and ugly crimes against our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Bank stop,” said Saree.
The Houthis, backed by Tehran, have launched several missile and drone attacks against Israel since the latest assault on the besieged Gaza Strip began on October 7, killing more than 12,300 Palestinians, including 5,000 children.
“The Houthis have carried out a number of attacks on Iranian targets. We are expecting more attacks in the coming days,” al-Attab said.