on Sunday 19 November, 2023

Israel says ship hijacked by Yemen’s Houthis in Red Sea not Israeli, blames Iran

This picture taken on April 5, 2022 shows a view of the Panama-flagged bulk carrier ship “ATA-M” moored at the Red Sea port of Hodeida in western Yemen. (AFP)
by : Agencies

Israel said on Sunday that Yemen’s Houthi militia had seized a British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship in the southern Red Sea, describing the incident as an “Iranian act of terrorism” with consequences for international maritime security.

The Houthis, an ally of Tehran, have been launching long-range missile and drone salvoes at Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian Hamas militants it has been battling in the Gaza Strip since October 7.

AFP, citing a Houthi official and a maritime source, reported that the Houthis seized an Israeli cargo ship in the Red Sea and diverted it to Yemen’s coast.

“We took an Israeli cargo ship to the Yemeni coast,” a Houthi official said, while a maritime source in the coastal city of Hodeida said the ship had been taken to the port city of Salif.

Last week, the Houthi leader said his forces would make further attacks on Israel and they could target Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said a ship - which it did not name - had been seized, and stressed that Israel was not involved in its ownership, operation or the make-up of its international crew.

“There were no Israelis on the ship,” it said.

“This is another Iranian act of terrorism that represents an escalation in Iran’s belligerence against the citizens of the free world, with concomitant international ramifications vis-a-vis the security of global shipping routes.”

A US defense official told Al Arabiya English: “We’re aware of the situation and are monitoring it, closely.”

The Israeli military said in an earlier statement that the Houthis had seized a cargo ship in the southern Red Sea as it was sailing from Turkey to India, calling it “a very grave incident on a global level.”

“The ship departed Turkey on its way to India, staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship,” the Israeli military said in a social media post.