New Delhi: Israel has alleged that Yemen’s Houthi rebels are responsible for the hijacking of an Israeli-linked cargo ship headed from Turkey to India via the Red Sea.
The incident that took place on Sunday (November 19), has raised fears of escalated regional tensions over the Israel-Hamas war.
There was no immediate comment from the Houthis, an Iran-backed rebel movement in Yemen that threatened earlier Sunday to target Israeli-linked vessels in the Red Sea, the Indian Express reported.
According to the report, the Houthi rebels are also suspected of having sent missiles and drones over the shipping lane of the sea.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, while calling the incident an “Iranian act of terror,” said that there were no Israelis onboard the ship that has 25 crew members of various nationalities, including Bulgarians, Filipinos, Mexicans and Ukrainians.
The Israeli military called the hijacking a “very grave incident of global consequence.”
The hijacked vessel had been in Korfez, Turkey, and was on its way to Pipavav, India, at the time of the seizure reported by Israel, the Indian Express reported.
Although Israel has denied any connection with the seized ship, unconfirmed reports suggest the ship may have an Israeli owner.
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, which was founded by Abraham “Rami” Ungar, who is known as one of the richest men in Israel, the Indian Express report said.
Ungar denied comment to the Associated Press when asked about the incident.
According to the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which provides warnings to sailors in the Persian Gulf and the wider region, the hijacking occurred nearly 150 kilometers off the coast of Yemen’s port city of Hodeida, near the coast of Eritrea.
The Houthis have repeatedly threatened to target Israeli ships in the waters off Yemen in wake of Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza.