JERUSALEM, Nov 19 (Reuters) – Yemen’s Houthis seized a British-owned and Japanese-owned cargo ship in the southern Red Sea, Israel said on Sunday, describing the incident as an “act of Iranian terrorism.” .
The Houthis said they had captured a ship in the area but described it as an Israeli ship. “We treat the ship’s crew according to Islamic principles and values,” a spokesman for the group said, making no mention of the Israeli account.
Tehran’s allies, the Houthis, have been launching long-range missile and drone attacks on Israel in solidarity with Palestinian Hamas militants fighting in the Gaza Strip.
Japan’s top government spokesman confirmed on Monday the capture of the Nippon Yusen-operated Galaxy Leader, and Japan has appealed to the Houthis as it sought the help of Saudi, Omani and Iranian officials to quickly free the ship. crew.
“We strongly condemn such acts,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference. There were no Japanese in the group, he said.
Galaxy Leader is owned by a company registered under Isle of Man-headquartered Ray Car Carriers, a division of Tel Aviv-linked Ray Shipping, according to LSEG data.
Ray Car Carriers and Ray Shipping could not immediately be reached for comment outside business hours.
Japan’s Nippon Yusen ( 9101.T ), known as NYK, said the company had set up a task force to gather more information, including the safety of 25 workers from the Philippines, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania and Mexico. . The vessel, a car carrier, was en route from Europe to India with no cargo, a spokesman said.
Last week, the Houthi leadership said its forces would launch further attacks on Israel and that they could target Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.
A security official said the US was monitoring the situation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said a vessel – which it did not name – had been seized. His office said there were no Israelis on board and that Israel was not involved in its ownership or operation.
“This is yet another Iranian act of terrorism that marks an escalation of Iran’s belligerence against citizens of the free world, along with international changes against the security of global shipping lanes,” his office said.
Earlier on Sunday the Houthis said all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or flying the Israeli flag could be targeted.
Written by Dan Williams and Sang-Ron Kim; Reporting by Mohammed Alkobari in Aden and Chang-Ron Kim, Mariko Katsumura and John Geddy in Tokyo; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Andrew Heavens, Lisa Shumaker and Jerry Doyle
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