Yemen’s Houthi rebels has seized a cargo ship that was on its way to India. The ship which was linked to Israel in the Red Sea arrived in port Hodaida, Yemen. The Hijack of the ship has been sparking concerns of escalating regional tensions amid the Israel-Hamas conflict. The rebels, reportedly backed by Iran, had earlier threatened to target Israeli-linked vessels in the Red Sea. Last month, they were suspected of launching missiles and drones in the same crucial shipping lane.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office condemned the seizure of the Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader, a vehicle carrier, as an “Iranian act of terror,” with the Israeli military labeling it a “very grave incident of global consequence.”
The ship, carrying 25 crew members of various nationalities, was en route from Korfez, Turkey, to Pipavav, India, at the time of the hijacking.
Statement by Prime Minister's Office:— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) November 19, 2023
Israel strongly condemns the Iranian attack against an international vessel.
The ship, which is owned by a British company and is operated by a Japanese firm, was hijacked with Iran guidance by the Yemenite Houthi militia.
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.— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) November 19, 2023
The Hi-jacked Ship
While Israeli officials insisted the ship was British-owned and Japanese-operated, public shipping databases associated the owners with Ray Car Carriers, founded by Abraham “Rami” Ungar, one of Israel’s wealthiest individuals.
Ray Car Carriers was established in 1970. With a fleet of 20 ships, including the GALAXY LEADER the company transports cars and general goods. As reported by local media, the ship, flying the Bahamas flag, was hijacked by the Houthis when it was on its way to the port of Pipavav in India, carrying 5,500 vehicles, before being towed to the port of Hodeidah after canceling UN inspection procedures at the port.
تعود ملكية GALAXY LEADER إلى شركة Ray Car Carriers المحدودة، وهي شركة شحن بريطانية مقرها في جزيرة مان. تأسست الشركة في عام 1970 وتعمل في مجال نقل السيارات والبضائع العامة. تمتلك الشركة أسطولًا من 20 سفينة، بما في ذلك GALAXY LEADER.— صالح البيضاني Saleh Al Baidhani (@salehalbaydani) November 19, 2023
ترفع السفينة علم جزر البهاما، اختطفها الحوثيون… pic.twitter.com/rEBrvMm3vp
Ungar-the owner of the shipping company has acknowledged the incident but refrained from commenting until further details emerged.
International shipping complexities involving management companies, flags, and owners worldwide were highlighted, adding a layer of intricacy to the situation.
Here is the video of the Hijack surfacing across the Internet:
On November 19, 2023, Yemen’s Houthi rebels reportedly seized control of an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the southern Red Sea. This incident has been characterized by Israel as an “Iranian act of terrorism.” The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that the ship, which was carrying 22… pic.twitter.com/loOzsiNIpn— Era Gigman (@idan_bg) November 19, 2023
A ship linked to Ungar had previously experienced an explosion in the Gulf of Oman in 2021, with Israeli media attributing it to Iran. The vessel had its Automatic Identification System tracker switched off, a practice sometimes employed for safety or security reasons.
The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations reported the hijacking approximately 150 kilometers off Yemen’s port city of Hodeida, near the Eritrean coast.
The Red Sea, a vital trade route from Egypt’s Suez Canal to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, remains crucial for global shipping and energy supplies, prompting the deployment of U.S. Navy ships since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7.