Israel on Sunday confirmed that Houthis hijacked an international cargo ship in the Red Sea, but claimed no Israelis were on board.
“The hijacking of a cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very grave incident of global consequence,” spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a post on X.
He added that the ship was heading to India, “with an international civilian crew, without Israelis,” stressing that “this is not an Israeli ship.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in a statement said “Israel strongly condemns the Iranian attack against an international vessel.”
The ship, it said, owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese firm, was hijacked by Houthis with Iranian guidance.
The statement added that onboard the vessel are 25 crew members of various nationalities including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican, but no Israelis.
“This is another act of Iranian terrorism and constitutes a leap forward in Iran’s aggression against the citizens of the free world, with international consequences regarding the security of the global shipping lanes,” the press release said.
Several media sources said the ship, Galaxy Leader, is partly owned by the Israeli businessman Rami Unger.
Earlier in the day, the Yemeni group vowed to target ships owned or operated by Israeli companies, in support of Palestinians amid relentless Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.
Spokesman Yahya Saree said on X that they will target the ships “carrying the flag of the Zionist entity,” and which are owned and operated by Israeli companies.
The spokesperson urged the world to withdraw its citizens working on the crews of these ships, avoid shipping on or handling such vessels, and to stay away from them.