In a recent development, Yemen's Houthi seize cargo ship in southern Red Sea. The Galaxy Leader ship in question was reportedly en route from Turkey to India when the Houthi forces boarded it.
Conflicting reports have emerged regarding the vessel's ownership, with the Houthis asserting it to be Israeli, while Israel identifies it as a British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship with no Israeli nationals on board.
Public shipping databases associate the ship's owners with Ray Car Carriers, founded by Abraham “Rami” Ungar, one of the wealthiest individuals in Israel.
Ungar, when approached by The Associated Press news agency, stated he was aware of the incident but refrained from commenting until more details emerged.
Notably, a ship linked to Ungar experienced an explosion in the Gulf of Oman in 2021, with Israeli media attributing it to Iran.
Yahya Saree, the Houthi military spokesperson, stated that the ship's seizure was a response to what he called "heinous acts against our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Bank."
If the international community is concerned about regional security and stability, rather than expanding the conflict, it should put an end to Israel’s aggression against Gaza.- Yahya Saree, the Houthi military spokesperson
The Houthis have been involved in the Israel-Gaza conflict, launching missile and drone attacks against Israel since October 7, prompting Israeli retaliatory measures.
Last week, the Houthis warned of the potential targeting of Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.
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.- Yahya Saree, the Houthi military spokesperson
Saree reiterated this warning, stating that any ship associated with Israel or its supporters would be a legitimate target for Houthi forces until the aggression against Palestinians ceased.
Houthi fighters fire antitank grenades during a military maneuver near Sanaa, Yemen.
Israel, in a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, denied involvement in the ship's ownership or operation.
The statement labeled the incident as an "Iranian act of terrorism," accusing Iran of jeopardizing international maritime security.
This … represents an escalation in Iran’s belligerence against the citizens of the free world, with concomitant international ramifications vis-a-vis the security of global shipping routes.- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office
Israel emphasized that there were no Israelis on board the vessel, with the crew comprising individuals from Ukraine, Mexico, the Philippines, Bulgaria, and other countries.
In response to Israel's claims, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani, refuted any involvement in the ship's seizure during a press conference in Tehran.
We have said multiple times that resistance groups in the region act independently and spontaneously based on their interests and that of their people.- Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani
Kanaani asserted that resistance groups in the region, including the Houthis, act independently based on their own interests, dismissing Israeli accusations as an attempt to divert attention from its perceived defeat against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.
The situation continues to unfold, with international attention focused on the implications for regional security and maritime routes.
The seizure of the cargo ship Galaxy Leader by Yemen's Houthi rebels has escalated tensions in the already volatile region. The conflicting narratives surrounding the ship's ownership, linked to Israeli businessman Rami Ungar, add complexity to the situation.
The Houthi response, tied to the Israel-Gaza conflict, raises concerns about the broader regional implications. Israel, denying involvement and attributing the incident to "Iranian terrorism," faces skepticism, with Iran vehemently denying any role.
As the situation unfolds, the international community watches closely, mindful of the potential impact on maritime security and the ongoing dynamics in the Middle East.