Houthis Seize Nippon Yusen-Operated Ship in Red Sea (UPDATE 1)

AP file photo
The Galaxy Leader is seen at the port of Koper, Slovenia on Sept. 16, 2008.

Jerusalem (Jiji Press)—Yemen’s Houthi militants have seized a cargo ship operated by Nippon Yusen K.K. in the southern part of the Red Sea, according to the Israeli and Japanese governments.

Nippon Yusen informed the Japanese transport ministry that the Galaxy Leader car carrier, owned by a British firm and chartered by the shipping company, is believed to have been seized in the Red Sea, ministry officials said. No Japanese people were on board.

“Israel strongly condemns the Iranian attack against an international vessel,” the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement Sunday, adding that the ship “was hijacked with Iran guidance by the Yemenite Houthi militia.”

The Houthis, a pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim group, said Sunday that it captured an Israeli ship and took it to the Yemeni coast, claiming that the operation was carried out based on its humanitarian and moral responsibility to Palestinians under horrible bombardment.

According to the prime minister’s office, there were 25 crew members from various countries, including Ukraine, the Philippines and Mexico, on board the ship, but no Israelis were included. The vessel was sailing from Turkey to India.

The British company that owns the Galaxy Leader is linked to an Israeli business tycoon, Israeli media reports said.

The Houthi group declared that it would continue its attacks against Israel after the start of the ongoing fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The group has repeatedly attacked Israel with missiles and drones.