Romanian sailor, on a ship captured by Houthi rebels in Yemen in the Red Sea

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Israel announced on Sunday that Houthi rebels from Yemen had captured a cargo ship with 25 crew members, including Romanians, detained by the British and operated by the Japanese in the southern Red Sea. The incident was described as an “Iranian act of terrorism” with consequences for international maritime security, according to Reuters. The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) stated on Monday morning that a Romanian citizen might be on board the ship.

Iran rejected Israeli accusations that the Houthi rebels in Yemen acted on Tehran’s directives when they seized the ship owned by an Israeli businessman, as reported by The Guardian, citing AFP.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani stated that the Israeli accusations are “baseless.”

We have repeatedly conveyed that regional resistance groups represent their countries and make decisions and act based on the interests of their countries,” he said.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused that the ship “was hijacked under Iran’s guidance by the Houthi militia.”
The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that a Romanian was on board the captured ship.

On November 19, the Galaxy Leader, sailing in the Red Sea under the Bahamas flag, was captured by Houthi militias and taken near the coast of Yemen. According to preliminary information, among the crew members, there is a Romanian citizen,” the ministry stated.

The Interinstitutional Crisis Cell has been activated, and standard procedures for cases involving Romanian citizens have been initiated, the MAE further clarified. Houthi rebels claimed they captured a ship in the area, which they identified as Israeli. “We treat the ship’s crew in accordance with Islamic principles and values,” a spokesperson for the group stated without specifically mentioning Israel.

Houthi rebels, allies of Tehran, have launched long-range missile salvos and drones against Israel in solidarity with Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

The Japanese government spokesperson confirmed on Monday the capture of the Galaxy Leader, operated by Nippon Yusen, adding that Japan is calling on the Houthi rebels while seeking assistance from Saudi, Omani, and Iranian authorities to work towards the swift release of the ship and its crew.

We strongly condemn such acts,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno in a press conference. He confirmed that no Japanese citizens are among the crew members.

The Galaxy Leader is owned by a company registered as Ray Car Carriers, based in the Isle of Man, a unit of Ray Shipping established in Tel Aviv, according to LSEG data.

The Japanese company Nippon Yusen (9101.T), also known as NYK, stated that it has set up a task force to gather more information, including the safety of the 25 crew members from the Philippines, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, and Mexico. The spokesman mentioned that the car carrier was en route from Europe to India without cargo.

Last week, Houthi leaders declared that their forces would launch new attacks on Israel, including potential targeting of Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

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