Yemen's Houthi rebels hijacked a cargo ship in the Red Sea on Iran's orders, Israel says

  • Yemeni Houthi rebels hijacked a cargo ship in the Red Sea on Sunday.

  • The group has pledged to take action against Israeli ships until attacks on Gaza stopped.

  • Israel claimed Iran was behind the incident.

Israel said that a cargo ship was hijacked in the Red Sea by Yemen's Houthi rebels on Iran's orders.

The cargo ship, Galaxy Leader, was traveling from Turkey to India and sailing under the flag of the Bahamas when the incident occurred, the IDF wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The ship was registered under a British company but operated by a Japanese firm, and at some point, it seems to have been partly owned by Israeli billionaire Rami Ungar, The New York Times reported.

The rebels used a helicopter raid to hijack the ship at around 1 p.m. local time, three US officials told NBC News.

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu's office released a statement saying that the boat was "hijacked on an Iranian whim by the Houthi militia in Yemen," The Times of Israel reported.

"This is another act of Iranian terrorism which 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 statement said.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that it was not an Israeli ship, adding that the incident was "a very grave incident of global consequence."

Netanyahu's office's statement said that there were no Israelis on the ship, but there were 25 crew members from countries including Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Philippines, and Mexico.

On Sunday, a spokesperson for the Yemeni Armed Forces , Yahya Sare'e, threatened Israeli vessels in the Red Sea "in solidarity with Palestinian people in the wake of the brutal Israeli aggression on Gaza."

He said this would include ships "carrying the flag of the Zionist entity" and ones operated by and owned by Israeli companies.

The International Maritime Security Construct, a global coalition working to maintain safety in regional waters, advised ships to avoid Yemeni waters and travel at night when possible.

The Houthis are an Islamist political and armed organization who analysts say have ties to Iran. They have been battling against the Yemeni military for more than a decade.

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