Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have hijacked a ship on the Red Sea, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed on Sunday.
“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 IDF said.
“The ship departed Turkey on its way to India, staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship,” the military added.
The hijacked Galaxy Leader, a Bahaman-flagged vessel, is registered by a British company partially owned by Israeli tycoon Abraham Ungar.
The Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem released a statement confirming the ship was being operated by a Japanese firm and had 25 crew members on board from Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Philippines and Mexico.
“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,” according to the statement.
Earlier on Sunday, the Houthis threatened to attack any ship associated with Israel, according to a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter).
The Iran-backed Shi’ite group said it would target all vessels operated or owned by Israeli companies as well as other ships bearing the “flag of the Zionist entity.”
Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea called on all countries to withdraw their citizens working as crew members on Israeli ships, avoid working with Israeli freight carriers and steer clear of Israeli vessels.
The Houthis’ decision to target Israeli commercial vessels in the Red Sea was made in light “of what the Gaza Strip is being exposed to from the brutal Israeli-American aggression,” Sarea added.
Israel has bolstered its naval presence in the Red Sea area following repeated missile and drone attacks from Yemen.
The IDF said that missile boats were deployed “in accordance with the assessment of the situation, and as part of the increased defense efforts in the region.”
The IDF’s Arrow air-defense system intercepted the missiles in the “Red Sea area” and they did not cross into Israeli territory, the military said on Tuesday.
On Nov. 9, Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile at Eilat, which was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow 3 in the aerial-defense system’s first operational use.
In a statement posted to X, the Houthis subsequently announced it “launched a batch of ballistic missiles at various sensitive targets of the Israeli entity … including military targets in the Umm al-Rashrash [Eilat] area .”
On Oct. 31, Israel’s Arrow 2 air defense system for the first time intercepted a surface-to-surface missile fired from the Red Sea area.