Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed to have seized an Israeli merchant ship in the Red Sea on Sunday and diverted it to the Yemeni coast, a Houthi leader said, while the Israeli military denied it was from a Israeli ship
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“We took control of an Israeli cargo ship,” the Houthi leader told AFP on condition of anonymity, indicating that an official statement would be released later.
A maritime source in the rebel-held port of Hodeidah (west) said that “the Houthis seized a commercial ship and took it to the port of Al-Salif in Hodeida.”
For its part, the Israeli army denied that it was an Israeli ship.
“The ship left Turkey bound for India, with civilians of various nationalities on board, but no Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship,” the army stressed.
The Houthi rebels threatened on Tuesday to attack Israeli ships in the Red Sea, after claiming several attacks against Israel, at war with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The Houthis, who control Yemen’s capital Sanaa, are “part of the axis of resistance” against Israel, which includes Iran-backed groups such as Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah.
In a statement from his office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “strongly condemned the Iranian attack on an international ship.”
“The ship, owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese company, was hijacked en route to Iran by the Yemeni Houthi militia,” according to a statement from Mr. Netanyahu.
“On board the ship are 25 crew members of various nationalities, including Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Filipinos and Mexicans. There are no Israelis on board. “This is a new act of Iranian terrorism and a step forward in aggression by Iran against the citizens of the free world, with international consequences for the security of the world’s sea lanes,” the statement continued.