Yemen’s Houthis have seized an Israeli-linked ship in the Red Sea after vowing to target Israeli vessels in the region over Israel’s onslaught in Gaza.
The Houthis forces seized the Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader, a car carrier that’s owned by Ray Car Carriers, a shipping firm that was founded by Israeli shipping mogul Abraham “Rami” Ungar. Ray Car Carriers, which is based in the Isle of Man, is still believed to be owned by Ungar, at least partially.
Israeli officials are insisting that the ship is not Israeli because it’s British-owned and currently operated by a Japanese company. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said 25 crewmembers had been taken hostage by the Houthis and that no Israelis were onboard.
Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen reported on the ship seizure and put the number of crew members higher, saying 52 people were detained by the Houthis. According to AP, the Houthis said they were treating the crew members “in accordance with their Islamic values.”
The Houthis also said that “all ships belonging to the Israeli enemy or that deal with it will become legitimate targets.”
The Houthis, formally known as Ansar Allah, have been firing missiles and drones at Israel over the Israeli assault on Gaza. The Houthis have also recently downed an American MQ-9 Reaper drone that was flying near Yemen and is believed to have fired a drone at a US warship in the Red Sea.
The US has been at war with the Houthis since 2015 by backing a Saudi-UAE coalition against them, which has included helping enforce a blockade on Yemen. A ceasefire between the Saudis and the Houthis has held relatively well since April 2022, but no lasting peace deal has been signed.