THIS is the dramatic moment the Iran-backed Houthis hijacked a shipping vessel owned by an Israeli billionaire in the Red Sea.
Footage released by the group based in Yemen shows a chopper landing on the cargo carrier before several gunmen made their mad dash on board.
Footage shows the moment the Houthis, an Iran-backed rebel group, hijacked an Israeli cargo ship[/caption]
Gun-wielding operatives were seen holding crew members at gunpoint[/caption]
The Galaxy Leader is a large cargo ship owned by an Israeli tycoon[/caption]
The helicopter can be seen lingering above the Israeli ship, named the Galaxy Leader, before armed Houthi gunmen clamber onto the deck with their weapons at the ready.
They then hold the international crew at gunpoint as operatives make their way across the decks wearing safety vests.
In the chaotic footage, one of the Houthi operatives is also seen shouting the group’s slogan while pacing the ship.
“God is the Greatest, Death to America, Death to Israel, Cursed be the Jews, Victory to Islam,” he says.
It is widely believed that the Houthis receive support from Iran – who is believed to actively arm the group, and even provide them with potential targets.
The Bahaman-flagged cargo ship is registered under a British company, which is partially owned by Israeli tycoon Abraham Ungar, who is better known as Rami.
The vessel was being leased out to the Japanese company, Nippon Yusen, at the time of the surprise hijacking on Sunday.
“This is a ship that left Turkey on its way to India with an international civilian crew, without Israelis.”
But he insisted the ship was not Israeli.
Yesterday, the vessel’s owner said the ship is now being held in the Hodeidah port area in Yemen.
“All communications were subsequently lost with the vessel,” the Isle of Man-registered Galaxy Maritime Ltd, said in a statement.
“The company, as a shipping concern, will not be commenting further on the political or geopolitical situation.”
The United States denounced the ship’s seizure as a breach of international law and demanded the immediate release of the vessel and its crew.
“The Houthi seizure of the motor vessel Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea is a flagrant violation of international law,” U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.
“We demand the immediate release of the ship and its crew and we will consult with our allies and U.N. partners as to appropriate next steps.”
The hijack comes after the Houthis vowed they would target all ships owned by Israel or flying the Israeli flag in the Red Sea.
However, the Israeli Defence Forces denied that the cargo vessel belonged to Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the capture of the cargo as “terrorism”.
Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi threatened to seize shipping in a rant last week.
He said: “Our eyes are open to constantly monitor and search for any Israeli ship in the Red Sea.”
“Owners and managers believe the seizure of this vessel represents a gross violation of freedom of passage for the world fleet and a serious threat to international trade,” it added.
Galaxy Maritime stated that the “key concern at this time is the safety and security of the 25 crew members currently being held by the perpetrators of this criminal act”.
Initially, Lebanon-based outlet Al Mayadeen reported there were 52 people on board the ship when it was seized, but it has now been confirmed that the number of crew was 25.
The Houthi rebel group has already made several missile and drone attacks against Israel since the brutal October 7 massacre.
They have complete control over Yemen and its coast along the Red Sea.
Houthi involvement has sparked fears that the war in Gaza could spiral out into the wider Middle East, as Israel pushes their ground offensive.
Palestinian civilians have been left fleeing for their lives as Israel continues their attempts to destroy Hamas after the terror group massacred 1,200 civilians on October 7.
Families living in Gaza have been caught in the brutal crossfire, with regular accusations that the terrorists are attempting to use them as “human shields”.
Much of the northern part of the strip has been turned into a devastated warzone – with ruined buildings, dwindling supplies, and horrific suffering for Gaza’s people.
The Red Cross estimates that some 1.5 million civilians have been forced to flee south amid the Israeli onslaught from land, air, and sea.
Figures for the death toll remain unverified – but Hamas’ health officials claim more than 11,000 civilians, including more than 4,500 children have been killed.
Israel disputes these figures – and US President Joe Biden said he had “no confidence” in them.
But Benjamin Netanyahu admitted Israel has “not been successful” in reducing civilian casualties.
He said the deaths, however, must be blamed on Hamas – not Israel.
And as the horror continues there have been growing calls for a humanitarian ceasefire to stop the bloodshed.
The rebel group is currently holding 25 international crew members on the Galaxy Leader[/caption]
The Galaxy Leader is partially owned by an Israeli business[/caption]