Houthis Surprise Landing on Israeli Cargo Ship Galaxy Leader in Red Sea
Houthis take control of an Israeli ship in the Red Sea amid regional tensions
Yemen's Houthi rebels have seized control of a cargo ship in the southern Red Sea, heightening tensions amid the conflict in Gaza. The Houthis, controlling northern Yemen and its Red Sea coast, assert the ship is Israeli; Israel identifies it as the British-owned and Japanese-operated Galaxy Leader.
The vessel, partly owned by an Israeli businessman and flying the flag of the Bahamas, was en route from Turkey to India with about 25 people on board. Public shipping databases link its ownership to Ray Car Carriers, founded by Israeli figure Abraham “Rami” Ungar.
Ungar, aware of the incident, refrains from commenting until more details emerge. The ship associated with him experienced an explosion in the Gulf of Oman in 2021, attributed to Iran by Israeli media.
The Houthis released a video on Monday allegedly showing the seizure of the ship on Sunday. The video depicts masked armed men boarding the moving ship from a helicopter and holding the crew members at gunpoint. Palestinian and Yemeni flags were subsequently hoisted on the ship.
Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree claims the ship's seizure is in response to "heinous acts against our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Bank." Saree warns that any ship linked to Israel or its supporters is a legitimate target for Houthi forces in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.
The Houthis have launched missile and drone attacks against Israel since October 7, triggered by a Hamas attack in Israel. Saree reiterates the Houthi commitment to military operations against Israel until "aggression and ugly crimes" against Palestinians cease in Gaza and the West Bank.