WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have released video footage showing the hijacking of a cargo ship, the Galaxy Leader, in the Red Sea.
The video, released by the Houthis’ TV channel Al Masirah, depicts a group of armed individuals landing on the vessel via helicopter and raiding the cargo ship, holding some of its 25-person crew at gunpoint. The ship, registered under a British company partially owned by an Israeli businessman, had been leased to a Japanese company at the time of the incident.
According to the owner of the ship, Galaxy Maritime Ltd, all communications were lost with the vessel. The crew includes citizens of Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico, and Romania. Among the crew members is Bulgarian national Danail Veselinov, a 39-year-old military veteran.
Houthi rebels targeted the ship due to its ties to Israel, warning that any Israeli-linked vessels will be considered “legitimate targets” until the war in Gaza is brought to an end. The Israeli Defense Forces described the incident as a “very grave incident of global consequence,” despite there being no Israeli citizens among the crew at the time.
The State Department and the Japanese government have both condemned the incident, demanding the immediate release of the ship and its crew. In addition to Veselinov, another Bulgarian national, Captain Lyubomir Chanev, was aboard the ship at the time of the hijacking.