Iran-backed Houthi Rebels Hijack Cargo Ship in Red Sea, Escalating Regional Tensions

  • Iran-backed Houthi rebels seize internationally flagged cargo ship in the Red Sea, releasing video of helicopter raid and crew hostage-taking as a response to Israel’s war against Hamas.
  • Ship hijacking video shows armed militants storming the deck, entering the pilothouse, and operating from different parts of the vessel, while smaller speedboats surround it.
  • Israeli officials deny ship’s affiliation with Israel, condemn hijacking as an Iranian attack, and express concern over Iran’s naval activities in the region. Fate of hostages uncertain, negotiations underway for their release.

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Iran-backed Houthi rebels have seized an internationally flagged cargo ship in the Red Sea and released a video showing their helicopter raid of the vessel. The rebels claim that the hijacking is in response to Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas. The video, published by the Houthi rebel group, reveals the dramatic seizure of the ship, with militants storming the deck and taking the crew hostage.

The video, which is approximately four minutes long, shows the Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader from a distance before depicting a helicopter landing on the ship’s deck. Armed militants exit the helicopter and take control of the vessel, entering the pilothouse and yelling at crew members. Additional footage displays rebels operating from different parts of the ship and smaller speedboats surrounding the Galaxy Leader.

The Houthi spokesperson stated that the ship was hijacked due to its connection to Israel and warned that any ships associated with Israel would become “a legitimate target.” However, Israeli officials have denied the ship’s affiliation with Israel. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated that the Galaxy Leader is not an Israeli ship and had departed from Turkey, en route to India. The ship is owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese firm, with no Israeli crew members on board.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s office condemned the hijacking, describing it as an “Iranian attack” and an act of terrorism. They called attention to Iran’s naval activities in the Middle East, which have historically caused concern among Western militaries. Meanwhile, the fate of the hostages is unknown, although the Japanese government is reportedly working towards securing their release through negotiations with the Houthis.

The Houthi rebels have been engaged in attacks against Israel and the US since the start of the ongoing war. The group has fired drones and missiles at Israel, leading to Israel activating its air-defense network. US Navy warships have also intercepted Houthi threats. Other Iran-backed groups across Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria have also targeted Israel and US forces.

Overall, the Houthi rebel group’s hijacking of an internationally flagged cargo ship in the Red Sea has escalated tensions in the region. The group claims that the action is in response to Israel’s war against Hamas, although Israeli officials deny any affiliation between the hijacked ship and Israel. The fate of the hostages remains uncertain, while negotiations for their release are underway.

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