HODEIDA, Yemen: Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels said on Sunday they had seized a Zionist ship in the Red Sea, a claim immediately denied by the Zionist entity. The allegation came days after the rebel group had threatened to target Zionist vessels in the Red Sea over the Zionist entity’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. “We took a (Zionist) cargo ship to the Yemeni coast,” an unidentified Houthi official said in a statement, adding that further details would be released later.
A Yemeni maritime source said the Houthis “seized a commercial vessel” and took it to the port of Salif in the coastal city of Hodeida which the rebels control, without specifying its nationality. The Zionist entity’s military denied the ship was Zionist. A statement by the army on X, formerly Twitter, said: “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 (Zionists). “It is not a (Zionist) ship,” the Zionist army said in the statement. The office of Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also denied the ship was Zionist but denounced, in a statement, “the Iranian attack against an international vessel”. “The ship, which is owned by a British company and is operated by a Japanese firm, was hijacked with Iran guidance by the Yemenite Houthi militia,” it said. “Onboard the vessel are 25 crew members of various nationalities including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican,” it added.
On Nov 14, Houthi rebel leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi said the group was on the lookout for Zionist vessels in the commercially vital waters of the Red Sea — even those that do not have Zionist flags. “Our eyes are open to constant monitoring and searching for any (Zionist) ship,” he said in a speech broadcast by the rebels’ Al-Masirah TV station. “The enemy relies on camouflage in its movement in the Red Sea, especially in Bab al-Mandab (strait), and did not dare to raise (Zionist) flags on its ships... and turned off identification devices. We will search and verify the ships that belong to him, and we will not hesitate to target them, and let everyone know that he is afraid,” he added.
The Bab al-Mandab Strait is the narrow pass between Yemen and Djibouti at the foot of the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, which carries about a fifth of global oil consumption. The Houthis, declaring themselves part of the “axis of resistance” of Iran-affiliated groups, have launched a series of drone and missile strikes targeting the Zionist entity since October. – AFP