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Iran denies involvement in Red Sea ship seizure by Yemen's Houthis

November 20, 2023 at 8:37 am

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani in Tehran, December 20, 2022. [Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

Iran denied Israeli claims that it was involved in the seizure of a cargo ship in the southern Red Sea by Yemen’s Houthis, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said today.

“We have said multiple times that resistance groups in the region act independently and spontaneously based on their interests and that of their people,” Kanaani said, adding that Israeli claims were aimed at diverting attention away from Israeli’s “irreparable defeat” in its battle against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Yesterday, the Houthis said they had seized a ship, describing it as Israeli. “We are treating the ship’s crew in accordance with Islamic principles and values,” a spokesperson for the group said.

Israel said the incident was an “Iranian act of terrorism” with consequences for international maritime security, adding that the ship is British-owned and Japanese-operated. Japan’s top government spokesperson today confirmed the capture of the Nippon Yusen-operated ship, Galaxy Leader, adding that Japan was appealing to the Houthis while seeking the help of Saudi, Omani and Iranian authorities to work toward the swift release of the vessel and its crew.

“We strongly condemn such acts,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference. No Japanese nationals are among the crew, he said.

Galaxy Leader is owned by a company registered under Isle of Man-headquartered Ray Car Carriers, which is a unit of Tel Aviv-incorporated Ray Shipping, according to London Stock Exchange Group (LSGE) data.

The Iran-backed Houthis have been launching long-range missile and drone salvoes at Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians suffering under a genocidal bombing campaign being carried out by Tel Aviv in Gaza.

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