The Yemeni front against Israel has intensified its activities in recent days. The Houthi rebels, who have been in conflict with the Israeli government, have taken a significant step in their efforts. Since the outbreak of the conflict initiated by Hamas, which resulted in the tragic loss of over 1200 Israeli lives on October 7th, the Houthi rebels in Yemen have fired several ballistic missiles towards Israel. In a concerning development, they announced Sunday afternoon that they have taken control of what they refer to as an "Israeli ship" in the Red Sea.
This announcement comes just a few days after the Houthi rebels openly threatened to target Israeli ships sailing in the Red Sea region. They specifically stated that any vessel displaying an Israeli flag or being Israeli-owned would be at risk.
The President should immediately direct the re-listing of the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization. Removing this designation was a tragic mistake.— Richard Goldberg (@rich_goldberg) November 19, 2023
Upon closer examination, it becomes apparent that the ownership of this ship is somewhat disconnected from Israel. According to a report from the IDF radio station, the vessel is owned by a British company and was leased to a Japanese company. Interestingly, the British company, which is the original owner of the ship, has partial ownership by Israeli businessman Rami Unger. Importantly, there are no Israeli citizens on board this cargo ship.
An IDF spokesperson responded to the Houthis' claim, stating, "The hijacking of the cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very serious global event. This ship, which left Turkey en route to India, carries an international civilian crew and does not include any Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship."
The Prime Minister's Office also condemned the incident, saying, "We strongly denounce the Iranian attack on an international ship. The vessel, owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese company, was seized under Iranian influence by the Houthi militia in Yemen. The ship carries 25 crew members of various nationalities, including Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Filipinos, and Mexicans. There were no Israelis present on the ship."
Furthermore, this incident highlights what has been described as "another act of Iranian terrorism," signaling an alarming escalation in Iran's aggression against citizens of the free world. It has also raised concerns about the security of global shipping lanes.
Reports: Yemen's Houthis have seized the Israeli cargo ship Galaxy Leader, belonging to an Israeli businessman pic.twitter.com/sFLanXRZw6— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) November 19, 2023
To better understand the context, it is essential to recognize that the Houthi rebels hail from the Zada province in northwestern Yemen. They are a Shia-Zaidi organization, representing an estimated 15% of Yemen's population. Following the unification of North and South Yemen in 1990, the Houthis initiated numerous attacks, eventually gaining control of Sana'a, Yemen's capital, in 2014. The civil war they initiated continues to this day, with significant regional and global implications.