A British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship was taken over by Yemen’s Houthis on Sunday, according to Israel, which called the event an “Iranian act of terrorism” with implications for global marine security.
Although they claimed to have taken control of a ship, the Houthis identified the vessel as Israeli. A representative for the group stated, “We are treating the ship’s crew in accordance with Islamic principles and values,” without mentioning the Israeli story.
Tehran’s ally, the Houthis, have begun attacking Israel with long-range missiles and drone strikes as a show of support for the Palestinian Hamas fighters battling in the Gaza Strip.
The chief government spokesperson for Japan announced on Monday that the Nippon Yusen-operated ship Galaxy Leader had been captured. The spokesperson further stated that Japan was pleading with the Houthis and enlisting the assistance of Saudi, Omani, and Iranian authorities to facilitate the prompt release of the ship and its crew.
At a press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno declared, “We strongly condemn such acts.” He stated that there were no Japanese nationals on the crew.
According to LSEG data, a company registered as Ray Car Carriers, a Tel Aviv-incorporated Ray Shipping division, owns Galaxy Leader. Outside regular business hours, Ray Carriers and Ray Shipping could not be immediately reached for comment.
The firm has formed a task team to obtain additional information, including regarding the safety of the 25 crew members, who are from the Philippines, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, and Mexico, according to Japan’s Nippon Yusen (9101.T), better known as NYK. According to a spokesman, the auto carrier sailed empty from Europe into India.
The Houthi leadership threatened to strike Israel again last week, threatening to target Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.
According to a defense official, the US is monitoring the situation. The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the seizure of a ship without disclosing its identity. According to his office, Israel had no ownership or operational involvement in the aircraft, and no Israelis were on board.
“This is another Iranian act of terrorism that represents an escalation in Iran’s belligerence against the citizens of the free world, with concomitant international ramifications vis-à-vis the security of global shipping routes,” according to his office.
The Houthis had earlier on Sunday threatened to attack any ship flying the Israeli flag or owned or controlled by Israeli corporations.