In a concerning development, the Galaxy Leader, a cargo ship en route from Turkey to India, has been hijacked by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, according to a statement by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). The vessel, owned by a British company, operated by a Japanese firm, and registered in the Bahamas, was transporting vehicles from Korfez, Turkey, to Pipavav in Gujarat when it was captured.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office strongly condemned the incident, labeling it an act of Iranian “terrorism.” The statement emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “This is another act of Iranian terrorism and constitutes a leap forward in Iran’s aggression against the citizens of the free world, with international consequences regarding the security of the global shipping lanes.”
Despite the condemnation, the IDF clarified that the hijacking did not involve an Israeli ship. This incident comes on the heels of heightened tensions in the region, with Houthi rebels declaring war against Israel amid the ongoing conflict with Hamas.
The hijacking of a cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very grave incident of global consequence.
The ship departed Turkey on its way to India, staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) November 19, 2023
Yahya Sarea, a Houthi spokesperson, had earlier declared the group’s intention to target all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or carrying the Israeli flag. The Houthis, controlling a significant part of war-torn Yemen, had urged countries to withdraw their citizens working on crews of such ships, emphasizing the risk associated with shipping on or handling vessels linked to Israel.
Days before the hijacking, Houthi leader Abdel Malik al-Houthi had vowed to monitor and locate Israeli ships in the Red Sea. The situation is being closely monitored by US officials, following recent incidents involving the shooting down of drones and cruise missiles fired from Yemen, seemingly headed for Israel.
As international concerns escalate, the hijacking of the Galaxy Leader underscores the complex geopolitical dynamics at play in the region and raises questions about the safety of global shipping lanes.