Houthi forces hijack tanker ship in the Red Sea

Houthi rebels have released footage showing militants waving machine guns storming the Israeli ship Galaxy Leader after seizing the vessel in the Red Sea.

The Iran-backed Houthis have been carrying out attacks against Israeli targets for weeks after pledging their support to Hamas.

In a statement following the hijacking, the Houthis said: “All ships belonging to the Israeli enemy or that deal with it will become legitimate targets.”

The video shows the militants approach the ship on a helicopter before boarding it and taking all 25 crew hostage.

The helicopter is seen landing on the deck of the vessel, and at least seven armed men jump off.

The masked men can be seen walking down the deck toward the crew cabin undisturbed.

After inspecting the cabin from outside, the group can be seen entering and pointing their guns at terrified members of the crew.

Other sections of the clip show the rebels inspecting the ship, with one of the hijackers seen walking around the middle deck with a gun in his hand as he appears to shout “Allahu Akbar.”

The Galaxy Leader is then seen from the outside surrounded by smaller vessels in further drone footage.

Mohammed Abdul-Salam, the Houthis’ chief negotiator and spokesman, said in an online statement that the Israelis only understand “the language of force.”

Abdul-Salam added: “The detention of the Israeli ship is a practical step that proves the seriousness of the Yemeni armed forces in waging the sea battle, regardless of its costs and cost. This is the beginning.”

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The Houthis said they were treating the crew members “in accordance with their Islamic values,” but did not elaborate on what that meant.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office had blamed the Houthis for the attack on the Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader, a vehicle carrier affiliated with an Israeli billionaire. It said no Israelis were on board.

The ship’s Japanese operator, NYK Line, said the vessel had no cargo at the time of the hijacking. Its crewmembers are from the Philippines, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and Mexico, NYK said.

Japan on Monday condemned the hijacking. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the Japanese government was doing its utmost for an early release of the crew.

Israeli officials insisted the ship was British-owned and Japanese-operated. However, ownership details in public shipping databases associated the ship’s owners with Ray Car Carriers, founded by Abraham “Rami” Ungar, who is known as one of the richest men in Israel.

Netanyahu’s office condemned the seizure as an “Iranian act of terror.” The Israeli military called the hijacking a “very grave incident of global consequence.”

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