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Houthis labelled Israeli ships as “legitimate targets”

The Iranian-backed militia group, the Houthis, warned that all Israeli ships were “legitimate targets” two days after the hijacking of a cargo ship in the Red Sea.

This comes just after the Houthis released a video of armed men jumping out of a helicopter and taking over the Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader. The Husis claim to be operating as part of an “axis of resistance” against Israel, with their military official, Major General Ali Al-Moshki, stating the following:

Israeli ships are legitimate targets for us anywhere… and we will not hesitate to take action.

Another Houthi leader warned that Sunday’s seizure of the ship “was just the beginning” and vowed to continue seaborne attacks until Israel halted its siege of the Gaza Strip.

Galaxy Maritime Ltd said in a statement that the crew of the Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader consisted of nationals from Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico, and Romania. The vessel is British-owned and operated by a Japanese firm, but has links to Israeli businessman Abraham “Rami” Ungar.

The United States condemned the seizure as a violation of international law, demanding the immediate release of the ship and its crew. US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller stated:

“The Houthi seizure of the motor vessel Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea is a flagrant violation of international law. We demand the immediate release of the ship and its crew and we will consult with our allies and U.N. partners as to appropriate next steps.”

On Sunday, two commercial ships Glovis Star and Hermes Leader altered their course in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden due to Houthi threats. According to shipping and British maritime security company Ambrey, the ships were linked to a maritime group whose vessel was seized by the Houthis.

The vessel continued to sail back to where it had come from, providing a new AIS destination as Hambantota, Sri Lanka. The vessel incurred a minimum four-day business disruption and sailed an additional 1,876 nautical miles.

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