While the Japanese authorities demand the release of the 25 crew members, the rebels assure that they “will continue to carry out military operations against the Israeli enemy”.
This is one of the repercussions of the conflict between Hamas and Israel. On Monday, Japan announced it would approach Houthi leaders in Yemen a day after Iran-backed rebels captured a cargo ship with 25 crew members in the Red Sea, chartered by a Japanese group and owned by Israeli.
In the images provided by the rebels, a helicopter lands on the building, then in the open sea, and around ten armed rebels deploy on the ship before reaching the command room. While the crew members are taken hostage, the boat is guided to a port held by the Houthis.
A few days earlier, the Houthis had threatened to target Israeli ships in this strategic sea located between northeast Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, in retaliation for Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Gaza. The war was started by the unprecedented attack by the Palestinian movement on Israeli soil on October 7.
The cargo ship seized on Sunday is operated by a Japanese company, prompting Tokyo to intervene directly with the rebels.
Japan “communicates with Israel and, in addition to direct contacts with the Houthis, we urge Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran and other relevant countries to pressure the Houthis to quickly release the ship and the crew members,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said Monday. Israel, Japan and the United States condemned the seizure of the ship.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Sunday that the ship was owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese group.
Nippon Yusen, also known as NYK Line (Japan), confirmed to AFP on Monday that it operates the Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader: “The Galaxy Leader, a car carrier vessel that we charter from the company, was captured” near the coast. from Hodeida, in western Yemen.
The Japanese company said it had formed a special team to collect information and ensure the safety of the 25 crew members.
For its part, the maritime security company Ambrey specified that the owner of the boat was Ray Car Carriers, whose parent company belongs to Israeli businessman Abraham Rami Ungar.
The Houthis, who control much of war-torn Yemen, “will continue to carry out military operations against the Israeli enemy until the aggression against Gaza and the heinous crimes against our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Bank” cease. », Warned the military spokesperson of the Houthis. Yahya Saree on X (formerly Twitter).
A threat reiterated Monday by the deputy chief of staff of the Houthis, General Ali Al-Moshki, to the Al-Massirah television channel: “Israeli ships are legitimate targets for us, wherever they are.”
The Israeli army said Sunday that the hijacking of a cargo ship by the Houthis was “a very serious incident that had global consequences,” in a message on its X account.
She said the ship left Turkey for India and on board were “civilians of various nationalities, but no Israelis.”
Benjamin Netanyahu’s office “strongly condemned the Iranian attack on an international vessel”, saying the boat was “hijacked under the direction of Iran by the Yemeni Houthi militia”.
“Flagrant violation of international law”
Iran rejected the accusations on Monday, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani saying that “the resistance groups in the region represented their country, that they made their decisions and acted according to the interests of their country.” .
The Israeli prime minister’s office said the ship’s crew consisted of 25 members of various nationalities, including Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Filipinos and Mexicans.
A US military source called the seizure of the ship a “flagrant violation of international law”, adding that Washington would contact its allies and the UN to discuss “appropriate” steps to take.
The Houthis are part of what they describe as an “axis of resistance” against Israel, which includes Iranian-backed groups such as Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah.