Skip to main content

How Houthis' hijacking of Israel-linked ship tests limits of US deterrence

The US is consulting with allies after Iran-backed Yemeni fighters fast-roped onto the deck and hijacked an Israeli-linked cargo ship amid Israel's war against Palestinian militants in Gaza.
A screenshot from a video released by Yemen's Houthi rebels showing the seizure of the ship.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels hijacked a cargo vessel in the Red Sea on Sunday, taking 25 crew members hostage in an apparent attempt to escalate against Israel amid the war in Gaza.

The Houthis claimed they had seized the Galaxy Leader, which the group described as an Israeli ship, in the Red Sea on Sunday, saying they had brought it back to Yemen.

Video released Monday showed armed fighters fast-roping onto the deck from a helicopter and storming the ship’s bridge as crew members surrendered. The Yemeni faction said its forces would “deal with the ship’s crew in accordance with the teachings and values of the Islamic religion.”

The group said it would continue its attacks against Israeli targets until Israel halts its campaign against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, further warning “all ships belonging to the Israeli enemy or dealing with it that they will become a legitimate target.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.