In a shocking incident, a cargo ship "Galaxy Leader" travelling from Turkiye to India was allegedly hijacked by Yemen's Houthis when it was passing the Red Sea, multiple Saudi media reported on Sunday. Initially, it was reported that Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) were behind the hijacking incident, but later, the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel named Iran for the incident. Some media also reported that Israeli citizens were onboard but later it was rebuffed by Tel Aviv.
Denouncing the incident, it said Israel strongly condemns the Iranian attack against an international vessel and added the ship, which is owned by a British company and is operated by a Japanese firm.
Notably, the Houthis, an ally of Tehran, have been launching long-range missile and drone salvoes at Israel in support of Palestine. 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, Iran's Al-Arabiya News reported.
Israel warns Iran of consequences for violating international maritime security
The PM office claimed that the vessel was hijacked with Iran's guidance by the Yemenite Houthi militia. "Onboard the vessel are 25 crew members of various nationalities including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican. No Israelis are onboard," it said in a social media post. "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," it added.
Earlier on Sunday, the Houthis, backed by Israel's arch-foe Iran, declared their intention to target any ships flying the Israeli flag or owned/operated by Israeli companies, YNET News reported.
In their statement, they called on countries to evacuate their citizens from such vessels and advised against using them to transport goods. They also urged nations to notify these ships to steer clear of their ports.