Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Hijack Israel-Linked Ship and Take Crew Hostage

( – Western and Israeli officials have feared that additional conflicts would arise across the Middle East after the Hamas terrorist attack against Israel. The United States has beefed up its military presence in the Suez Canal and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait since the October 7 attack.

Several missiles and drones originating from Yemen have been destroyed by United States warships on two separate occasions since the attack. On November 19, Houthi rebels from Yemen seized a ship in the Red Sea by repelling from a helicopter. The Galaxy Leader was adorned with a Bahaman flag, but the Houthis claimed it was Israel-affiliated.

The Houthis said that any ship that belongs to or has ties with Israel “will become legitimate targets.” The rebels took the entire 25-man crew as hostages. Officials from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that there were no Israelis on the ship, but there were crew members of many other nationalities. Without elaborating further, the Houthis said that the hostages would be treated “in accordance with their Islamic values.” Netanyahu’s office blamed Iran for the ship’s seizure, and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) commented on the global ramifications of the Houthi’s actions.

A database that tracks public shipping showed that the Galaxy Leader was owned by a company founded by Abraham Ungar, who is one of the wealthiest people in Israel. However, the official claim of Israel is that it is owned by the British and operated by the Japanese. Ungar declined to provide comment to the Associated Press until he was made aware of additional details.

Israel previously blamed Iran for a 2021 explosion of a ship that was also linked to Ungar. Officials from the United States Department of Defense also confirmed that the Houthis were behind the ship’s seizure. The ship was 90 miles off the coast of Yemen and heading toward Pipavav, India from Turkey when the rebel group boarded the ship. The tracking system that shows the ship’s identification was turned off at the time of the attack.

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