Yemen’s Houthi rebels said in a televised statement on Sunday that they had seized an Israeli ship in the southern Red Sea and taken it to a Yemeni port. Later in the day, Hamas militants thanked the group, saying that “this is a welcome step from the Yemeni forces.”
Israel described the incident as an “Iranian act of terrorism” with consequences for international maritime security, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said a ship had been seized but it had no Israeli connections or Israeli crew on board.
Iran has denied Israeli claims that it was involved in the seizure of the British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said at a Monday press conference in Tehran. Kanaani said that Israeli claims were aimed at diverting attention away from Israeli’s “irreparable defeat” in its battle against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.
Japan’s top government spokesperson confirmed on Monday the capture of the Nippon Yusen-operated ship, Galaxy Leader, adding that Japan was appealing to the Houthis while seeking the help of regional authorities. The Houthis, an ally of Tehran, have been launching long-range missile and drone salvoes at Israel in solidarity with the Hamas militants fighting in Gaza, according to reports.
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