Photo by IDF Spokesperson on 19 November, 2023

Jerusalem Denies Israelis Aboard Ship Hijacked by Houthi Rebels

Public By Pesach Benson • 19 November, 2023

Jerusalem, 19 November, 2023 (TPS) -- Israel denied on Sunday that any of its nationals were aboard the Galaxy Leader, a cargo ship hijacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea. Officials accused Iran of being behind the action.

The Houthis, which have launched a number of missiles and drones at Israel since Oct. 7, have also threatened to attack Israeli shipping.

“We strongly condemn the Iranian attack against an international ship. The ship, owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese company, was hijacked on Iranian instructions by the Houthi militia in Yemen,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“On board the ship are 25 crew members of different nationalities, including: Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Filipinos and Mexicans. No Israelis were present on the ship. This is another act of Iranian terrorism that 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.”

The Israel Defense Forces said on X, formerly called Twitter, that the ship had departed Turkey and was on its way to India with an international crew.

“It is not an Israeli ship,” the tweet said.

The hijacked Galaxy Leader, a Bahaman-flagged vessel, is registered by a British company partially owned by Israeli tycoon Abraham Ungar.

Saudi media reports quoting the Iran-backed Houthis said the ship was seized in an area of the Red Sea between Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The Houthis claimed the crew were Israeli.

Israel has bolstered its naval presence in the Red Sea area following repeated missile and drone attacks from Yemen.

The military said that missile boats were deployed “in accordance with the assessment of the situation, and as part of the increased defense efforts in the region.”

Earlier this month, the IDF successfully shot down several missiles from Yemen headed for the southern resort town of Eilat.