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Houthis contacted by Japan over ‘Israeli’ ship seized in Red Sea

November 20, 2023 at 1:43 pm

People wave Palestinian flags during the event held by hundreds of people, as paintings, depicting the resistance of the Palestinians, made in solidarity for them, are displayed in Sanaa, which is under the control of Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen on November 13, 2023. [Mohammed Hamoud – Anadolu Agency]

Japan is “directly approaching” Yemen’s Houthi-led government after its armed forces announced the hijacking of a ship partially owned by an Israeli businessman, but operated by a Japanese company.

“We are communicating with Israel, and in addition to directly approaching the Houthis, we are also urging Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran and other countries concerned to strongly urge the Houthis for the early release of the vessel and crew members,” explained Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa in Tokyo. “Our government will continue to take necessary measures in cooperation with the countries concerned, while taking into account the situation.”

There are believed to be 25 crew members on board the Bahamian-flagged vessel, which is registered under a British company.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, said at a news conference today that, “We have received reports that the Bahamas-registered car carrier ship Galaxy Leader, which Nippon Yusen operates, was seized yesterday by a Houthi armed group while traveling south near Yemen. We strongly condemn such activity.”

Yesterday, the spokesman for the Houthi-aligned Yemeni armed forces, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, said that the country’s naval forces carried out an operation in the Red Sea, leading to the seizure of an Israeli ship. “The operations of the armed forces threaten only the ships of the Israeli entity and those owned by Israelis. Yemeni armed forces confirm that they will continue to carry out military operations against the Israeli enemy until the aggression against Gaza stops and the heinous acts against our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Bank stop.”

According to Al-Mayadeen, the operation came less than eight hours after Saree had issued a warning that any ships owned or operated by the occupation state would be targeted.

Over the past month, the Houthis have stepped up drone and missile operations against Israel amid its ongoing genocidal war against Gaza, having warned they will intervene in the conflict. “There are red lines when it comes to Gaza,” they said.

According to the Times of Israel, the Galaxy Leader is part-owned by Israeli tycoon Abraham Ungar, who goes by the name Rami. The Israeli military said yesterday that no Israelis were on board the cargo ship.

Yesterday the Sanaa government’s Minister of Information, Daifallah Al-Shami, revealed that the Houthi authorities has “information on all Israeli vessels that sail through the Red Sea.”

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