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Israel's military denied the ship was Israeli.
The Houthis said on X, formerly Twitter, that their naval forces carried out “a military operation in the Red Sea” in which they seized an Israeli ship before taking it to the Yemeni coast.
The Houthi statement said “all ships belonging to the Israeli enemy or dealing with it that they will become a legitimate target” and warned “all countries whose nationals work in the Red Sea to refrain from any work or activity with Israeli ships or ships owned by Israelis”.
They added they would “continue to carry out military operations against the Israeli enemy until the aggression against the Gaza Strip stops”.
“It is not an Israeli ship,” the Israeli army 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,” it said on X.
“The ship departed Turkey on its way to India, staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis.”
Israel described the incident as an “Iranian act of terrorism” with consequences for international maritime security.
The Houthis have been launching long-range missile and drone attacks at Israel in solidarity with Hamas militants the country has been battling in the Gaza Strip since October 7.
Last week, the Houthi leader said his forces would make further attacks on Israel and they could target Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Bab Al Mandeb.
A representative said earlier on Sunday that all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies, or carrying the Israeli flag, could be targeted.
A US Defence official said: “We're aware of the situation and are closely monitoring it."
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied the ship was Israeli while denouncing “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 Houthi militia,” it said.
“On board the vessel are 25 crew members of various nationalities including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican."