Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen seized an Israeli cargo ship in the Red Sea on Sunday and diverted it to the coast of the war-torn country, a rebel official and a maritime source said, cited by AFP.
"We have taken an Israeli cargo ship to the Yemeni coast," a Houthi official said, while a naval source in the coastal city of Hodeidah said the ship had been taken to the port city of Salif.
Earlier on Sunday, Sabereen News reported that the Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement, which rules in northern Yemen, captured the Galaxy Leader, an Israel-linked ship with 22 crew members, in the Gulf of Aden.
Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that there were Bulgarians among the crew of the cargo ship, but the ship was not Israeli.
In turn, the Israeli army said that the ship captured by the Houthis near Yemen was not Israeli and that there were no Israelis among its crew. The Prime Minister's office added the same.
"The capture of a cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very serious incident with global consequences. This is a ship that left Turkey and headed for India with a civilian crew of various nationalities, no Israelis. This is not an Israeli ship," the army said on its Telegram channel.
According to other reports, the Bahamian-flagged vessel is registered to a British company that is partly owned by Israeli tycoon Abraham Rami Ungar. The vessel was chartered to a Japanese company at the time of the hijacking.
The military representative of the Houthi armed forces, Yahya Sariya, through their controlled Al-Masirah TV channel, promised to make a statement on this issue in the near future. Earlier on Sunday, the Houthis warned that they would attack any ships in Yemeni territorial waters if they were flying the Israeli flag or owned by Israeli companies or individuals, in response to Israeli military action in the Palestinian Gaza Strip. Earlier, the Houthis launched several rocket attacks on the southern Israeli city of Eilat.
According to other reports, the Houthis have seized three ships, including one from Saudi Arabia, in the southern part of the Red Sea, Al-Masira TV reported. She did not identify the other two ships, but specified that they were all taken to the port of Salif. The Saudi military coalition fighting the Houthis said earlier today that the group had captured a tug towing a South Korean oil rig. /BGNES