An Israel-linked ship on its way to India was hijacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in a crucial Red Sea shipping route on Sunday. Twenty-five crew members were taken hostage.
The Iran-backed Houthi rebels said they hijacked the ship over its connection to Israel and would continue to target ships in international waters that were linked to or owned by Israelis until the end of Israel’s campaign against Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
The Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader, a vehicle carrier is linked to an Israeli billionaire. But no Israelis were on board when it was hijacked. Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office condemned the seizure as an “Iranian act of terror”.
The ship’s Japanese operator, NYK Line, said the vessel had no cargo at the time of the hijacking. Its crewmembers, who have been taken hostage are from the Philippines, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and Mexico.
The ship was bound for Pipavav in India.
Japan on Monday condemned the hijacking. Israeli officials insisted the ship was British-owned and Japanese-operated. But its ownership details associate the ship’s owners with Ray Car Carriers, founded by Abraham “Rami” Ungar, one of the richest men in Israel.