The Houthi-held Galaxy Leader is partly owned by an Israeli businessman and operated by a Japanese company (Reuters)
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani denied Israel's allegations of Iranian involvement in the seizure of a cargo ship by the Houthi group in the Red Sea partly owned by an Israeli businessman and operated by a Japanese company, while Japan condemned the operation and said it was working with the parties concerned to release the ship and its crew.
Kanani said at a press conference on Monday that Israeli allegations about Iran's involvement in the incident are aimed at diverting attention from its "disastrous defeat" in its battle against the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip.
"We have said many times that the resistance movements in the region act independently and on their own based on their interests and the interests of their peoples," he said.
The Houthi group announced on Sunday that it had taken an Israeli ship to the shores of Yemen, and the Israeli army considered the incident "very dangerous globally," while the Israeli Prime Minister described it as an "Iranian terrorist act."
Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree announced on Sunday evening that their naval forces carried out what he called a military operation in the Red Sea, "one of the results of which was the seizure of an Israeli ship and taking it to the Yemeni coast."
Saree said – in a video statement published on his account on the X platform – that their forces "deal with the crew of the ship in accordance with the teachings and values of our Islamic religion," pointing out that their forces "call on all countries whose nationals work in the Red Sea to stay away from any work or activity with Israeli ships or Israeli-owned ships."
For its part, the Israeli army said that the "hijacking" of the cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea "is a very serious event globally," explaining that "the hijacked ship left Turkey on its way to India with an international civilian crew without Israelis, nor is it Israeli."
The Israeli Prime Ministry described the seizure of the ship as an "Iranian terrorist act," noting that "the hijacking of the ship will create international repercussions related to the security of global shipping lanes."
The Associated Press quoted US officials as confirming that the Houthis seized the Galaxy Leader by landing from a helicopter on Sunday.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno on Monday condemned the seizure of the ship, operated by Japan's Nippon Yusan KK, by the Houthis.
The Japanese official stressed that his government is working with the concerned countries, including Israel, to urge the Houthis to release the ship and its crew as soon as possible.
He also confirmed that there were no Japanese citizens on board the cargo ship that the Houthis took to Yemeni shores.
Earlier, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said that "the group will target all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or flying the Israeli flag," calling on all countries of the world to withdraw their citizens working in the crews of these ships and avoid shipping on board or dealing with them.
Saree added – via the group's Telegram channel – that this comes "out of religious, national and moral responsibility and in view of the brutal Israeli-American aggression against the Gaza Strip, where daily massacres and genocide."
The Houthis also announced last Tuesday the launch of a batch of ballistic missiles against targets inside Israel, and the group's leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, threatened to target Israeli ships in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab.
Source : Al Jazeera + Agencies