British-owned cargo ship 'hijacked by Iran-backed Yemeni militia' with 25 people on board

19 November 2023, 16:48

The Galaxy Leader
The Galaxy Leader. Picture: @oldsalt77581

By Kit Heren

A British-owned cargo ship has been hijacked in the Red Sea by a Yemeni militia group said to be backed by Iran, with dozens of crew members on board.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The Galaxy Leader cargo ship was seized by the Houthi group near Yemen while it was travelling to India.

Some 25 crew members are said to be on board. Israel called it a terror attack, and a "very grave incident of global consequence".

The ship is registered to a British company, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Some reports have claimed the Galaxy Leader is ultimately owned by Israeli businessman Abraham Ungar.

The ship is Bahamas-flagged, and has been leased out to a Japanese company. No British or Israeli people are thought to be among the crew.

Read more: Israel 'close to agreeing deal for Hamas hostages' involving temporary ceasefire as only 'minor' issues remain

Read more: Netanyahu admits Israel has 'not been successful' in reducing civilian casualties - blaming Hamas

A spokesperson for the Houthis, who have been periodically attacking Israel since the start of the conflict, said the militia would target ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or carrying the Israeli flag.

They said that other countries should withdraw their citizens from Israeli ships. Among the people on board are thought to be Bulgarians, Filipinos and Mexicans.

The IDF 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 189-metre ship's last registered position, at around midday on Saturday, was in the south of the Red Sea, close to Port Sudan.

The Red Sea is a vital shipping lane for global trade, and Mr Netanyahu said that the hijacking could have "international implications" for security.

Mr Netanyahu said: "We strongly condemn the Iranian attack against an international ship.

"The ship, owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese company, was hijacked on Iranian whim by the Houthi militia in Yemen.

"On board the ship are 25 crew members of different nationalities, including: Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Filipinos and Mexicans.

"No Israelis were present on the ship.

"This is another act of Iranian terrorism which expresses a leap forward in Iran's aggression against the citizens of the free world, and creates international implications regarding the security of global shipping lanes."

Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi threatened that the group would target ships last week.

He said: "Our eyes are open to constantly monitor and search for any Israeli ship in the Red Sea."

The Houthis are a rebel group that controls northern Yemen, a country at the base of the Arabian peninsula to the south of Saudi Arabia.

They have long called for the destruction of Israel, but did not act on this until the start of the war in Gaza.

The Houthis have since fired several rockets at Israel and launched drone attacks, but have caused little damage.

The hijacking comes after Qatar said that Israel and Hamas come close to completing a deal to free the terror group's hostages.

The Gulf state has been involved in trying to free a number of the 240 people held by Hamas in Gaza.

They were kidnapped in the October 7 massacre, when more than 1,000 Israelis were killed.

A deal - which was partially thrashed out with American involvement - would see Israel call a temporary ceasefire in its invasion of the territory, where it is besieging Gaza city in a bid to destroy Hamas's ability to harm its people.

Qatar's prime minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said: "The challenges that remain in the negotiations are very minor compared to the bigger challenges.

"They are more logistical, they are more practical."

Mr Netanyahu said there is no agreement yet and has denied calls for a complete ceasefire.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Sir Ed Davey and Keir Starmer

Labour and Liberal Democrats pledge to cut cancer waiting times, as Tories admit 'there's more to do'

Mark Harper has admitted there is a 'hard fight ahead' for the Conservatives to win the election

Minister admits 'hard fight ahead' as poll suggests 'Tory extinction' - but says no deal to be done with Farage

William and Charles have shared Father's Day messages

Prince William sends touching Father's Day message to Charles with new photo, as King also shares childhood video

Labour and the Conservatives will face off in the July 4 election

Labour landslide could see Tories winning just 72 seats, poll finds, as Rishi Sunak's party faces 'electoral extinction'

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

General Election LIVE: Poll suggests Tory wipe-out on July 4, as Sunak insists 'only election itself matters'

Pooja Kanda with Ronan

Mother of murdered son urges online shops to stop selling knives voluntarily if laws won't ban them

Israel has paused fighting to allow more aid into southern Gaza

Israel announces 'tactical pause' in fighting to allow more aid into southern Gaza

Rishi Sunak said his faith guides him

Rishi Sunak says 'Hindu faith and duty' guide him as PM, and insists he is patriotic despite Nigel Farage's attacks

Gordon Ramsay 'lucky to be alive' as star shows off shocking injuries after being involved 'brutal' cycling accident

Gordon Ramsay 'lucky to be alive' as star shows off shocking injuries after being involved in 'brutal' cycling accident

Putin is 'not interested in genuine peace' in Ukraine, Rishi Sunak tells world in Switzerland

Putin is 'not interested in genuine peace' in Ukraine, Rishi Sunak tells world leaders in Switzerland

Kate's big comeback: Princess and William share tender moment as she re-joins royals at Trooping the Colour

Kate's big comeback: Princess and William share tender moment as she re-joins royals at Trooping the Colour

The attack, which took place in a garden east Germany on Friday night, saw the knifeman stab four people before police arrived at the scene.

German police shoot dead knifeman at Euro 2024 party after rampage leaves one dead and three injured

Businessman sues Apple after wife finds ‘deleted’ iPhone messages to prostitute

Businessman sues Apple after wife finds ‘deleted’ iPhone messages to prostitute

Olympic cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins is bankrupt, homeless and has "lost absolutely everything", according to his lawyer.

Olympic cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins has 'lost absolutely everything' as star faces selling medals following bankruptcy

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer promises no capital gains tax on sales of homes as he dismisses tax hike claims

Home Secretary calls for 'urgent investigation' after shock footage emerges of police ramming escaped cow

Fury grows as shock footage shows police ramming escaped cow with squad car