#Israel Claims Houthis Seize Ship In Red Sea, 'Iranian Act Of Terrorism'

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Israel on Sunday alleged Yemen's Houthi militia group had seized a British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship in the southern Red Sea. Tel Aviv called it an "Iranian act of terrorism" and "a very grave incident on a global level".

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that an international ship was seized by the Houthis, allies of Tehran. Officials stated that there were no Israelis on the ship. 

"This is another Iranian act of terrorism that represents an escalation in Iran's belligerence against the citizens of the free world, with concomitant international ramifications vis-a-vis the security of global shipping routes," Netanyahu's office said.

The cargo ship is owned by a British company and is operated by a Japanese firm. There were 25 crew members of various nationalities, including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican onboard the vessel. 

This development comes a week after a Houthi leader announced that the group would increase its attacks on Israel and Israeli ships in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

The group has been targeting Israeli posts with long-range missile and drone salvos, joining the Hamas militants, with whom Israel has been at war since October 7.

The Houthis have not commented on the incident so far.

The Houthis are a Zaidi Shia Muslim movement that emerged in northern Yemen in the 1990s. They are opposed to the Sunni-dominated government and have fought six wars with the Yemeni government since 2004. In 2014, they seized control of the capital, Sanaa, and forced the government into exile. Since then, they have been fighting a civil war against a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arab states.

Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog said that the country is hopeful that a significant number of hostages could be released by Hamas "in coming days". Netanyahu also stated that the negotiations are underway, but he rejected reports that a deal has been reached with the Palestinian group. 

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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