Yemen’s Houthi militia, which supports Iran, has intercepted a merchant ship in the Red Sea. The armed men arrived by helicopter and landed on the ship. Then they took control of the unit and its 25-person crew. The ship belongs to a British company in which Israeli businessman Rami Unger has shares. The Israeli prime minister’s office noted that this was “another act of Iranian terror.” Yemeni fighters published a video of their takeover of the unit.
The Houthi militia hijacked a merchant ship on November 19. The Bahamas-flagged ship belongs to a British company in which Israeli businessman Rami Unger has shares. This is “another act of Iranian terror,” commented the Israeli prime minister’s office. The 25-person crew of the ship, flying the flag of the Bahamas, consists of citizens of Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico and Romania. The ship is chartered by the Japanese shipowner Nippon Yusen.
The Houthis attack Israel
The Houthis, an ally of Tehran, have been shelling Israel with long-range rockets and drones in solidarity with Palestinian Hamas. Last week, the Houthi leader announced that his forces would carry out further attacks on Israel and may target Israeli ships in the Red Sea.
The militia said it had seized the ship in the area, but described it as “Israeli.” “We treat the ship’s crew in accordance with Islamic principles and values,” said a Houthi spokesman.
The militants published a video of the kidnapping
The video published by the Yemeni militia shows how the helicopter approached the merchant ship and hovered above its deck. Armed, masked men came out and the helicopter flew away. The fighters moved to the captain’s bridge and below deck. The ship’s crew was most likely there. Their faces have been anonymized. The screams of the kidnappers can also be heard in the recording.
“Communication with ship lost”
Galaxy Maritime, the company that owns the ship, said on Monday that the vessel is now in the port of Hodeidah in Yemen.-
“All communication with the ship has been lost. The company, as a shipping company, will not comment further on the political or geopolitical situation. The owners and managers believe that the seizure of this vessel constitutes a gross violation of the free movement of the world’s fleet and a serious threat to international trade,” the company said.
Japan calls for the release of the crew, the US demands it
A Japanese government spokesman confirmed on Monday the interception of the Nippon Yusen-operated Galaxy Leader ship. Japan appealed to the Houthis to quickly release the crew and abandon the ship. The spokesman asked the authorities of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Iran for help to influence the decision of the Yemeni militia.
The United States condemned the seizure of the ship and considers it a violation of international law. “The Houthi seizure of the Galaxy Leader ship in the Red Sea is a flagrant violation of international law,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said at a briefing. “We demand the immediate release of the ship and its crew and will consult with our allies and UN partners on next steps,” Miller said.
Main photo source: Reuters