A cargo ship partially owned by an Israeli businessman was hijacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea on Sunday, Israel confirmed on Sunday, accusing Iran of directing the maritime piracy.
The cargo ship, Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader, was leased from a British company partly owned by Israeli Rami Unger to a Japanese company.
The ship left a port in Turkey headed for India and sailed under the flag of the Bahamas. The Foreign Ministry said it was aware of the incident.
On board the ship are 25 crew members of different nationalities, including Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Filipinos, and Mexicans. No Israelis were onboard, the ministry said.
As a result of the attack, it received minor damage, and no crew members were injured.
Two ships owned by Unger were previously attacked by Iran in the Gulf of Oman in 2021.
The Prime Minister's Office condemned the seizure, highlighting that the ship was not Israeli nor owned by Israelis.
"This is another act of Iranian terrorism which expresses a leap forward in Iran's aggression against the citizens of the free world, and creates international implications regarding the security of global shipping lanes."
Houthis warn of maritime threat against Israel
Earlier on Sunday, a spokesperson for the Iran-aligned Houthi military, Yahya Sarea, said the group will target all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or carrying the Israeli flag, according to the group's Telegram channel.
The spokesman called on all countries to withdraw their citizens working on the crews of any such ships.
A member of the Houthi political bureau, Muhammad al-Bukhaiti, told Al-Jazeera Live "Either you stop the aggression against Gaza or we will expand the conflict, and we will not allow them to destroy our brothers in Gaza."
A Houthi-linked news network said earlier in the day that the Houthis “will target all types of ships that carry the flag of the Zionist entity or are operated by or owned by Israeli companies, calling on all countries of the world to withdraw their citizens working on the crews of the enemy entity’s ships, and to avoid shipping on them.”
This means that they will also be targeting ships not just sailing under the Israeli flag but also carrying cargo owned by Israelis or even partially owned by them.
This would change the nature of the hijacking from general cargo stoppage in war to illegal piracy.