“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.
The vessel, Galaxy Leader, was transporting vehicles from Korfez, Turkey to Pipavav in Gujarat when it was captured en route in the Red Sea.
This comes a month after a US Navy warship shot down drones and cruise missiles fired from Yemen which appeared to be heading for Israel. On Sunday, US officials told NBC that they were monitoring the situation.
The Houthis, an insurgent group that controls most of the northern part of war-torn Yemen, had earlier declared war against Israel amid the conflict with Hamas.
Earlier on Sunday, Yahya Sarea, a Houthi spokesperson, said the group would target all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or carrying the Israeli flag.
On Sunday, the Yemen-based group had in a statement on Telegram, urged all countries to withdraw citizens working on the crews of these ships to avoid shipping on or handling these vessels.
Days ago, Houthi leader Abdel Malik al-Houthi had also vowed to monitor and locate Israeli ships in the Red Sea.
The IDF, however, said the hijacking did not involve an Israeli ship.
The hijacking of a cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very grave incident of global consequence.
The ship departed Turkey on its way to India, staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) November 19, 2023
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Who is Israeli businessman Rami Ungar?
Onboard the vessel are 25 crew members of various nationalities such as Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican. No Israelis are onboard, said the statement from the Israeli PM’s office.
Galaxy Leader is owned by a British company, operated by a Japanese firm, and registered under the flag of the Bahamas.
However, Israeli media indicate that the ship is partly owned by Israeli businessman Abraham ‘Rami’ Ungar.
74-year-old Ungar is a shipping magnate and founder of Tel-Aviv based Ray Shipping Ltd, one of the largest motor-vehicle importers in Israel.
He reportedly shares close links with former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen.
In 2017, Cohen was accused of helping Ungar in a business dispute over the distribution rights for the South Korean automobile major Kia, when he was serving as deputy chief of the spy agency.
A report by The Jerusalem Post said the Ungar and businessman Michael Levi were accusing one another of hacking and illegally collecting secret company data. During the case, former IDF special forces deputy chief Aviram Halevi testified that Cohen had pressured him to meet and cooperate with Ungar in 2013.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
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