Who are Yemen-based Houthis? Why have they hijacked India-bound ship in Red Sea?
Yemen's rebel group Houthi used a chopper to hijack a cargo ship headed to India in the Red Sea as the tensions amid the Israel-Hamas war remain on the rise.
In the middle of the war against terror group Hamas, Israel has alleged that Yemen's militant group Houthi is behind hijacking a cargo ship headed to India via the southern Red Sea, terming the incident an “Iranian act of terrorism”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office released a statement regarding the same, saying, "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."
The Houthis released a statement, saying that they have hijacked the ship and are treating the occupants "in accordance with Islamic principles and values". While the ships is owned by a British company, the rebel group described it as Israeli.
Who are Yemen's Houthi militants?
The Houthis, an ally of Tehran, have been launching long-range missile and drone salvoes at Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian Hamas terrorists fighting in the Gaza Strip. Most of their missile attacks have failed, with the hijack of the ship being the first major escalation in their involvement.
The Houthi movement commenced in the late 1990s, when the rebel family rose up in support of the Zaydi sect of Shia Islam which had once ruled Yemen, but over time lost their wealth and became impoverished and marginalised.
The Houthis clashed with the Yemen government multiple times, leading to a long series of wars and a brief clash on the border with Saudi Arabia. Since Israel launched their attack against Hamas, the rebel group has been showing solidarity with Palestine, launching multiple strikes against Israel.
Why did Houthis hijack India-bound cargo ship?
The India-bound cargo ship is owned by a British company and operated by the Japanese, but the Houthis maintain that the ship belongs to Israel, a claim rejected by Tel Aviv after the hijacking. The shop has now been taken to a Yemeni port, the rebel group confirmed.
No Israeli was aboard the ship and the 25 crew members belonged to multiple nationalities including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican.
Houthis said that hijacked the ship because of its link to Israel. While Netanyahu's office rejected this claim, the ownership details of the ship associate its owners with a company called Ray Car Carriers, which is founded by one of Israel's richest men, Abraham Rami Ungar.
(With inputs from agencies)