The Houthis seize a ship in the Red Sea linked to an Israeli company

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel said on Sunday that Yemen’s Houthis had seized a British-owned, Japanese-operated cargo ship in the southern Red Sea, describing the incident as an “Iranian terrorist act” with consequences for international maritime security. .

The Houthis said they seized a ship in that area, but described it as Israeli. A spokesman for the group said: “We treat the ship’s crew in accordance with Islamic principles and values,” without referring to the Israeli version.

The Houthis, allies of Tehran, launch long-range missiles and drones at Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian Hamas movement fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Japan’s chief government spokesman on Monday confirmed the seizure of the Nippon Yusen-operated ship Galaxy Leader, adding that Japan is appealing to the Houthis while requesting the assistance of Saudi, Omani and Iranian authorities to work toward the rapid release of the ship and its accessories. crew.

“We strongly condemn such actions,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a news conference. He added that there were no Japanese citizens among the crew members.

Galaxy Leader is owned by a company registered under Ray Car Carriers headquartered on the Isle of Man, a unit of the merged Tel Aviv-based Ray Shipping, according to LSEG data.

A view of the British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship Galaxy Leader, which was reportedly seized by the Houthis in the southern Red Sea, in this handout photo taken near Queensland, Australia on November 27, 2018. Owen Foley/Handout via Reuters/File Photo Obtaining licensing rights

Ray Car Carriers and Ray Shipping could not immediately be reached for comment outside business hours.

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Japan’s Nippon Yusen (9101.T), also known as NYK, said the company has formed a working group to collect more information, including information on the safety of the 25-member crew, who are from the Philippines, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania and Mexico. . A spokesman said that the ship, a car carrier, was heading towards India from Europe without any goods.

Last week, the Houthi leadership said that its forces would launch more attacks on Israel, and that they may target Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait.

A defense official said the United States was monitoring the situation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that a ship – whose name was not mentioned – had been seized. His office said there were no Israelis on board the plane and Israel had no role in its ownership or operation.

“This is another Iranian terrorist act that represents an escalation in Iran’s aggression against citizens of the free world, with attendant international repercussions on the security of global shipping routes,” his office said.

Earlier on Sunday, the Houthis said that all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies, or that fly the Israeli flag, could be targeted.

Writing by Dan Williams and Chang-Ran Kim. (Reporting by Mohammed Al-Ghobari in Aden and Chang-Ran Kim, Mariko Katsumura and John Geddy in Tokyo;

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