Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels said they had seized an Israeli ship in the Red Sea, a claim immediately denied by Israel.
The allegation came days after the rebel group had threatened to target Israeli vessels in the Red Sea over Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“We took an Israeli cargo ship to the Yemeni coast,” an unidentified Houthi official said in a statement, adding that further details would be released later.
A Yemeni maritime source said the Houthis “seized a commercial vessel” and took it to the port of Salif in the coastal city of Hodeida which the rebels control, without specifying its nationality.
Israel’s military denied the ship was Israeli.
A statement by the army on X, formerly Twitter, said: “The hijacking of a cargo ship by the Huthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very grave incident of global consequence.”
“The ship departed Turkey on its way to India, staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis.
“It is not an Israeli ship,” the Israeli army said in the statement.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also denied the ship was Israeli but denounced, in a statement, “the Iranian attack against an international vessel”.
“The ship, which is owned by a British company and is operated by a Japanese firm, was hijacked with Iran guidance by the Yemenite Huthi militia,” it said.
“Onboard the vessel are 25 crew members of various nationalities including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican,” it added.