Houthi rebels from Yemen claimed to have hijacked an Israeli-owned cargo ship sailing in the Red Sea.
According to the initial report in al-Arabiya, there were 25 crew members on board the "Galaxy Leader," which was transporting cars from Turkey to India.
While the ship was flying the flag of the Bahamas, it was registered under Ray Shipping, which is partially owned by the Israeli business tycoon Rami Ungar.
NBC News reported that Houthi rebels used a helicopter, with fighters rappelling onto the ship.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the seizure of the ship represents a "significant escalation in Iran's aggression against the citizens of the free world."
Earlier on Sunday, Yahya Sarea, a spokesman for the Iranian-backed Houthis, released a video threatening to hijack Israeli-flagged or Israeli-owned ships sailing in the Red Sea.
Last week, Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi threatened to target Israeli ships in the waters of the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait due to the war in Gaza.
The rebels released a statement, confirming the seizure of the ship in the Red Sea and its transfer to a port near Al-Khudeida: "The naval forces of the Yemeni army carried out a military operation in the Red Sea, the results of which were the capture of an Israeli ship and its transport to the coast of Yemen.”
The rebels promised to “treat the ship's crew in accordance with the teachings and values of Islam.”
They also gave a warning to “all ships belonging to or associated with the Israeli enemy that they will become a legitimate target for our forces.”
“We call on all countries whose citizens work in the Red Sea to refrain from any work or activity with Israeli ships or ships owned by Israelis,” the rebels said, warning that they will “continue to carry out military operations against the Israeli enemy until the aggression against the Gaza Strip and the heinous crimes that continue until this moment against our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Bank cease.”
IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari denied that the vessel was Israeli. Posting to X, Hagari wrote that “the vessel's international civilian crew was without Israelis. This is not an Israeli ship.”
Since the beginning of the war last month, the Houthis have fired several missiles toward Israel's southern city of Eilat. The missiles were intercepted by the Arrow system, by U.S. warships and even once by Saudi Arabia.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.