Houthis Hijack India-bound Israeli Tycoon-Linked Cargo Ship

Houthi rebels reportedly demonstrated military expertise by rappelling from a helicopter onto the cargo ship.
  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 05:30 AM, November 20, 2023
  • 629
Houthis Hijack India-bound Israeli Tycoon-Linked Cargo Ship
Galaxy Leader cargo ship @via X

Yemen's Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the hijacking of a cargo ship, the Galaxy Leader, reportedly owned by Israeli shipping businessman Abraham "Rami" Ungar.

The vessel, traveling from Turkey to India with over 20 crew members of various nationalities but no Israelis, was seized by the rebels in the Red Sea.

The Tehran-backed Houthis released a statement asserting their military operation in the Red Sea resulted in the capture of the Israeli-owned ship, taking it to the Yemeni coast. The rebels had previously vowed to target ships affiliated with Israel in the Red Sea, citing Israel's alleged aggression against Hamas in Gaza as justification.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office condemned the hijacking, labeling it "another act of Iranian terrorism."

However, Israeli officials deny the ship's Israeli ownership, claiming it is registered under a British company and leased to a Japanese operator.

Two U.S. defense officials told NBC News that the Houthi rebels descended on the cargo ship by rappelling down from a helicopter. This requires a military level of expertise and infrastructure.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) deemed the incident a "very serious global event," directly blaming the Houthis for the hijacking.

“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, spokesman for the Israeli military, was quoted as saying by Israeli media.

The complex nature of international shipping, involving various management companies and owners, has added confusion to the ownership of the vessel. Abraham Ungar, the Israeli tycoon linked to the ship, had a vessel associated with him experience an explosion in the Gulf of Oman in 2021, with Israeli officials attributing it to Iran.

The Galaxy Leader reportedly had its Automatic Identification System (AIS) switched off, raising concerns about safety and potential illicit activities.

The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations placed the hijacking approximately 90 miles off the coast of Yemen's port city of Hodeida.

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