A vessel seized by Yemen’s Houthi militia in the Red Sea on Sunday was spotted near the Yemeni port of Al-Hudaydah on Tuesday. Satellite imagery analysis by The New York Times confirmed that the ship, named Galaxy Leader, arrived at the port on Monday. The ship’s hijacking was recorded in a video released by the Houthi militia, showing armed men being deployed onto the vessel’s deck from a military helicopter. The ship was then surrounded by smaller Houthi boats, displaying the Houthi and Palestinian flags.
The Houthi militia, aligned with Iran’s Axis of Resistance, had earlier threatened to target ships belonging to Israel in the Red Sea. The hijacking of the Galaxy Leader was announced by a Houthi spokesman as a demonstration of support for the Palestinian people. Israel’s military clarified that the seized ship had no Israeli crew members and was traveling from Turkey to India.
While the ship’s beneficial owner is not disclosed, the Paradise Papers, a leak of confidential documents in 2017, indicated that an Israeli billionaire named Rami Ungar may have had involvement in the ship’s ownership.
The Houthi militia took control of Yemen’s capital, Sana, in 2014 and currently governs most of northern Yemen. Despite efforts by a Saudi-led coalition to remove them from power, the Houthis continue to express support for the Palestinian cause and antagonism towards Israel. In recent weeks, they claimed responsibility for an attempted missile and drone attack on southern Israel.