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Red Sea Crisis

Update: Houthi rebels seize car carrier with 25 crew on board

Screenshot from X Houthi military spokesman Yehya Sare’e
Yemeni Houthi rebels have seized a vessel managed by Ray Car Carriers in the Red Sea, an act condemned by Israel as "Iranian terrorism".

Update adds information from charterer NYK

The Houthi rebels are reported to have seized the car carrier Galaxy Leader near Yemen in the Southern Red Sea on Sunday.

"The Yemeni Naval Forces managed to capture an Israeli ship in the depths of the Red Sea taking it to the Yemeni coast," Houthi military spokesman Yehya Sare’e said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

Israeli Defence Forces also posting on X said: “The hijacking of a cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very grave incident of global consequence. The ship departed Turkey on its way to India, staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship.”

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said it strongly condemned what it described as an “Iranian attack against an international vessel”.

“The ship, which is owned by a British company and is operated by a Japanese firm, was hijacked with Iran guidance by the Yemenite Houthi militia,” the statement said.

According to the Equasis database the 2002-built Galaxy Leader is managed by Ray Car Carriers in the Isle of Man, and owned by Galaxy Maritime, which is listed as c/o Ray Car Carriers Isle of Man office. The vessel is flagged-with Bahamas and chartered by Japanese owner NYK.

Israel said that the vessel had 25 crew members on board of various nationalities including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican. No Israelis were reported to be on board the Galaxy Leader.

NYK in a short statement said it had setting up a crisis management centre and was gathering information. "As the vessel’s charterer, we are prioritising the safety of the 25 crew members," NYK said.

The company added that the vessel had no cargo onboard.

Houthi spokesman Yahya Sare'e said, “The Yemeni armed forces deal with the ship’s crew in accordance with the principle and values ​​of our Islamic religion.”

Ray Car Carriers was founded by Abraham “Rami” Ungar, who is known as one of the richest men in Israel. Ungar was reported as telling The Associated Press he was aware of the incident but couldn’t comment as he awaited details.