Houthis seize Israeli cargo ship in Red Sea

Houthi rebels seized an Israeli-linked cargo ship in a crucial Red Sea shipping route on Sunday, according to Israel – which claims Iran was behind the move.

The vessel is said to be owned by a company belonging to one of Israel’s richest men.

The capture of such a vessel raises fears that tensions that the Israeli attacks on Gaza are spreading to a new maritime front.

The Tehran-backed Houthis had earlier threatened to target Israeli-linked vessels in the Red Sea.

Moreover, NBC News cited three US officials saying the group used a helicopter to seize the ship.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said 25 crew members of different nationalities, including Bulgarians, Filipinos, Mexicans, and Ukrainians were on board the hijacked Bahamas-flagged ship, but no Israelis were there.

“All ships belonging to the Israeli enemy or that deal with it will become legitimate targets,” the Houthis said.

The Israeli occupation forces said that the hijacking is a “very grave incident of global consequence”.

Israeli officials said the ship was British-owned and Japanese-operated.

However details in public shipping databases show that the ship’s ownership is associated with Ray Car Carriers.

Ray Car Carriers was founded by Abraham “Rami” Ungar, one of the richest men in Israel.

The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations put the hijacking as having occurred 90 miles off the coast of Yemen’s port city of Hodeida, near the coast of Eritrea.

The ship’s Automatic Identification System tracker (AIS) had been switched off, according to analysis of satellite tracking data on MarineTraffic.com.

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