STORY: Houthi rebels from Yemen were seen storming a cargo ship in the Red Sea, in a video released by the Iran-backed group on Monday.
Its fighters appeared to land by helicopter onto the top deck, they brandished weapons at the ship’s crew, and ordered them to lie down.
The seized ship, the Galaxy Leader, is now in Yemen’s Hodeidah port area, according to its owner Galaxy Maritime, which is registered in the Isle of Man.
The Houthi movement claims the Galaxy Leader has links to Israel.
However, Israel has denied this, and says the seized ship was British-owned and Japanese-operated.
The owner confirmed the ship was “illegally boarded” on Sunday.
Its crew of 25 is made up of nationals from Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines and other countries.
All communications have since been cut with the vessel.
The Houthis are a group aligned with Iran that have emerged as a major military force in the Arabian Peninsula.
Last week, their leader said they would target Israeli ships in the Red Sea and said attacks would continue until “Israeli aggression”, referring to the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, is stopped.
A representative from Hamas thanked the Houthis for seizing the ship – he called it a welcome step in support of the Palestinian people.
The United States on Monday denounced the seizure.
It said it was a breach of international law, and demanded the Houthis immediately release the vessel and its crew.