A cargo ship believed to be owned by Israel has reportedly been hijacked by an Iran-backed militia group, Houthis, along with at least 52 people on board.
The hijack of the Galaxy Leader vehicle comes after the Yemen based militia group vowed to target all ships owned by Israel or flying their flag in the Red Sea.
Israeli officials confirmed the rebels had taken over the ship partially owned by one of their companies, according to Axios news outlet.
However, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) has denied the ship was Israeli.
The exact ownership of ships is difficult to ascertain due to various different companies owning stakes in or leasing the vessels but media outlets have reported the ship is owned by Israeli shipping businessman Rami Ungar.
The nationality of the crew members remains unknown – but Israel has insisted they have no nationals on board the ship.
Galaxy Leader reportedly had not reported its position to ship tracking services for 26 hours.
The Bahamas-flagged vessel is believed to have been in the Red Sea when it was attacked by the Houthis.
Lebanon-based outlet Al Mayadeen reported there were 52 people on board the ship when it was seized.
Other reports stated the number of crew was 22.
Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said: “The hijacking of the cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very serious event on a global level.
“This is a ship that left Turkey on its way to India with an international civilian crew, without Israelis.”
But he insisted the ship was no Israeli.
Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi threatened to seize shipping in a rant last week.
He said: “Our eyes are open to constantly monitor and search for any Israeli ship in the Red Sea.”
The group’s spokesman said they would issue a statement in the coming hours after the reports of the hijacked ship.
The rebel group has made several missile and drone attacks against Israel since the massacre by Hamas on October 7.
They control Yemen and its coast along the Red Sea.
It is widely believed they receive support from Iran – and often operate as one of its proxies.
Credit Gist New Today News in Newspaper Nigeria Headlines