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Houthi spokesman says the group’s fighters have hijacked the ship, reportedly owned by an Israeli businessman.
Yemen’s Houthis say they’ve taken management of an Israeli-owned ship within the southern Crimson Sea, with Israel describing the incident as an “Iranian act of terrorism” with penalties for worldwide maritime safety.
A Houthi navy spokesman confirmed to Al Jazeera on Sunday that its fighters hijacked the British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship.
A minimum of 22 individuals have been onboard the Galaxy Chief – reported to be partly owned by an Israeli businessman – which was en route from Turkey to India.
“We have now acquired affirmation from a Houthi official that they hijacked this ship. Earlier right this moment [Sunday], they introduced the start of operations to assault Israeli-flagged ships. They warned worldwide sailors to not work for such firms,” mentioned Al Jazeera’s Mohammed al-Attab, reporting from Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.
“We’re treating the crew in accordance with Islamic norms and rules,” mentioned Yemen’s Houthi navy spokesman Yahya Saree in a press release afterward Sunday.
He renewed the warning that any ship belonging to Israel or those that assist it will likely be a reputable goal for Houthi forces.
“We verify our continuation of navy operations in opposition to [Israel] till the aggression and ugly crimes in opposition to our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Financial institution cease,” mentioned Saree.
The Houthis, backed by Tehran, have launched a number of missile and drone attacks against Israel because the newest assault on the besieged Gaza Strip started on October 7, killing greater than 12,300 Palestinians, together with 5,000 youngsters.
“The Houthis have carried out a lot of assaults on Iranian targets. We expect extra assaults within the coming days,” al-Attab mentioned.
The Israeli authorities referred to as the hijack “a really severe occasion on a world degree”, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s workplace saying Israel was not concerned within the ship’s possession, operation or the make-up of its worldwide crew.
“That is one other Iranian act of terrorism that represents an escalation in Iran’s belligerence in opposition to the residents of the free world, with concomitant worldwide ramifications vis-a-vis the safety of worldwide delivery routes,” mentioned a press release launched by the prime minister’s workplace.
“There have been no Israelis on the ship,” it mentioned, including the 25 crew members are from Ukraine, Mexico, the Philippines and Bulgaria, amongst different international locations.
A United States defence official mentioned the US is “conscious of the state of affairs and carefully monitoring it”.
“What we perceive is that the delivery firm is partly owned by an Israeli businessman and this wouldn’t be the primary time one in every of his ships was intercepted. In 2021, one in every of his vessels was additionally focused,” mentioned Al Jazeera’s Sara Khairat, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem.
Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Tehran, mentioned there was no proof put forth by Israel that Iran is behind the hijack.
“That is an accusation made by the Israeli prime minister’s workplace with none concrete proof to assist it,” she mentioned.
The struggle in Gaza has despatched tensions hovering within the area, with worldwide organisations and political leaders warning of a possible wider regional conflict.
“Iran up to now has distanced itself from these varied armed teams within the Center East which are in opposition to Israel,” Jabbari mentioned.
“However given Israel’s steady bombardment of Gaza and what they name ‘genocide’ in opposition to the Palestinian inhabitants, the Iranians are saying the battle may unfold.”