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Houthi Rebels Confirm Hijacking of India-Bound Israeli Cargo Ship in Red Sea

Forces loyal to Yemen's Houthi rebels hold up Palestinian flags as they march in a show of solidarity with the Palestinians in Sanaa, Yemen, Oct. 15, 2023. - Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Images

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have officially confirmed the hijacking of an “Israeli cargo ship” in the Red Sea, as announced by Houthi military spokesman Yehya Sarea on Sunday. The statement, aired by the group’s al-Masirah TV, declared the successful implementation of a military operation in the Red Sea, seizing control of the Israeli vessel.

Sarea issued a renewed warning, threatening to target all ships associated with Israel, urging countries with citizens working in the Red Sea to cease any dealings with Israeli ships or vessels rented by Israelis. The spokesman said that the group would persist in military operations against Israel until what they referred to as “its aggression against the Gaza Strip” comes to an end, according to reports from the Xinhua news agency.

Earlier, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued a statement confirming the Houthi takeover of the cargo ship, identified as the Galaxy Leader, operating in the southern Red Sea and en route from Turkey to India. Describing the incident as “a very grave incident of global consequence,” the IDF expressed concern over the escalation of tensions.

Reports from Al Arabiya TV news said that the Galaxy Leader, primarily transporting cars, is operated by a Japanese company, leased from a British company co-owned by Rami Ungar—an Israeli shipping mogul and importer of vehicles, as reported by Israel’s Kan TV news.

Marine Traffic, an online vessel tracking platform, last updated information on the hijacked Galaxy Leader at 13:04 local time on Saturday. The Houthi militia control significant portions of Yemen’s north, including the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah since the onset of the Yemeni civil war in 2014.

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