What to Know:
Earlier today, reports emerged that Iran-backed Houthi rebel forces hijacked the Bahamian-flagged roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) vessel “Galaxy Leader” off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea.
Houthi’s Announce Targeting of Israeli Vessels:
The hijacking comes as the Houthi’s announced that “In solidarity with Palestinian people in the wake of the brutal Israeli aggression on Gaza, Yemen reiterates the threat against Israeli vessels in the Red Sea.”
* In solidarity with Palestinian people in the wake of the brutal Israeli aggression on Gaza, Yemen reiterates the threat against Israeli vessels in the Red Sea.
— Yahya Sare'e (@Yahya_Saree) November 19, 2023
Likewise, the announcement said that Houthi forces would attack Israeli-owned vessels, Israeli-operated vessels, and “Ships carrying the flag of the Zionist entity.”
The vessel involved has been identified as the Galaxy Leader, a Bahamian-flagged RoRo vessel that was transiting from Turkey to India. The vessel is also owned by a British company with links to Israeli business tycoon Abraham Ungar, but was being leased out to a Japanese company at the time of the hijacking, according to the Times of Israel. The Galaxy Leader is a roll-on/roll-off vessel, which are normally used for transporting cars and other wheeled vehicles.
Unconfirmed reports overnight that ??-flagged GALAXY LEADER, a vehicle transport carrier, was attacked by Houthi militants off the coast of Yemen. pic.twitter.com/vyOM2l0l0d
— The Intel Crab (@IntelCrab) November 19, 2023
Note: A vessel’s flag, or flag of convenience, represents the country that a ship is registered to, where it must follow that country’s international and maritime law. This is also done for a variety of reasons, including operating costs and taxes.
A vessel may be owned by a company, which generally handles maintanance and insurance costs of the vessel. A vessel may also be operated by a seperate company, which mans the vessel on behalf of the owner.
International vessels are often crewed by mariners of various nationalities that are not reflective of the vessel’s flag or nationality of the owner company.
In regards to the Galaxy Leader, the vessel follows Bahamian law, is owned by a British company, and is operated by a Japanese company with an international crew of various nationalities.
The IDF released a brief statement, calling the hijacking a “very grave incident of global consequence.” Likewise, the statement added that the vessel was “staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship.”
Statement by Prime Minister's Office:
Israel strongly condemns the 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.
— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) November 19, 2023
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office also released a statement saying that “Israel strongly condemns the Iranian attack against an international vessel,” adding that “This is another act of Iranian terrorism and constitutes a leap forward in Iran’s aggression against the citizens of the free world, with international consequences regarding the security of the global shipping lanes.”
The office also reiterated that “Onboard the vessel are 25 crew members of various nationalities including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican. No Israelis are onboard.”