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Maritime piracy and Iran's arms in the Red Sea

2023-12-22 07:59

Issam Khoury

#MaritimePiracy , #GlobalSecurity , #HouthiTactics , #InternationalLaw , #RedSea , #PoliticalImpacts , #GlobalGovernance , #MaritimeChallenges , #UNResolutions , #EconomicSecurity,

Maritime piracy and Iran's arms in the Red Sea

"Insightful analysis of maritime piracy, highlighting Houthi actions and international law challenges."

"Labbayk ya Gaza... Labbayk ya Gaza." The impact of this phrase was high in the corridors of the hijacked ship "Galaxy Leader" in the Red Sea on November 19, 2023, by the Houthi group. This listed terrorist group released a video[1] showing several soldiers descending from a helicopter carrying the Yemeni flag onto the deck of the ship, and capturing the ship's crew.


According to the Houthi group, the ship is owned by an Israeli businessman, and the hijacking was carried out as a reaction against Israeli investments, in solidarity with Hamas and the Palestinian civilian victims.


Interestingly, the majority of the ship's crew members are not Israelis, and the flag displayed on the ship belongs to the Bahamas, with the operating company being Japanese. This is exactly what the spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister, Ofir Gendelman, stated to the Arab world:


“We strongly condemn the Iranian attack on an international ship, which is owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese company. It was hijacked under Iranian instructions by the Houthi militia in Yemen. There are 25 individuals of different nationalities on board the ship, including Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Filipinos, and Mexicans. There are no Israelis on board the ship. This is another Iranian terrorist act that represents a leap forward in Iranian aggression against the citizens of the free world, creating international repercussions on the security of international navigation routes[2]”


Social media activists and many media networks like Al Jazeera and TRT[3] have been discussing the ownership of this company. In the end, it was revealed that the official owner of this ship is the Israeli businessman Abraham "Rami" Ungar[4], the owner of Ray Car Carriers[5] company. Supporters of the Palestinian cause have pointed out the Israeli businessman's connection to Israeli politicians in order to justify the act of abduction.





         The Galaxy Leadership is designed for transporting cars and vehicles. During its passage in the Red Sea, it did not engage in any military activities or provide any military assistance to the Israeli army, indicating that its activities were civilian. However, it was still abducted, which is a violation of international law and contradicts UN Security Council Resolution 2383 of 2017[6], which states:


  • He praises the Yemeni government for its efforts in combating piracy and armed robbery and urges it to continue these efforts.
  • He calls on all countries to provide full support to the Yemeni government in its efforts to combat piracy and armed robbery.


         Raising the Yemeni flag on the helicopter that carried out the armed robbery operation provides conclusive evidence that the perpetrators of the operation are official representatives of the government controlled by the Houthi group. This does not mean that the executing party is a group listed on the terrorism lists, but rather the representative party is a government that has a geographical area listed on the United Nations lists. This government has been negotiated with by several international parties, including the United Nations, to resolve the Yemeni crisis.


         This is actually a precedent in the history of groups listed on terrorism lists. Hezbollah, which is listed on the terrorism lists, only carries its own flag when carrying out any military operation to avoid the legal accountability of the Lebanese government, which it controls, under international law. As for the Houthi group, it has decided to disregard all international protocols and ignore all Security Council[7] decisions concerned with protecting regional waters from maritime piracy off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia.


         This trend is expected, as the Houthis have boasted about launching several rockets towards Israel, one of which was on November 9, 2023[8]. It indicates that the Houthis, who control the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait responsible for over 10% of global trade, have made a deliberate decision to target Israeli interests wherever they can. This poses a significant concern for the global economy, as many individuals involved in maritime trade have dual nationalities, including Israelis. Some of them may have affiliations with Israel, have investments or partnerships with Israeli companies, or have Jewish businessmen who support Israel. Consequently, their safety and ability to navigate through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait are at risk.


          In fact, this situation not only affects Israel but also has broader implications for maritime trade. It raises essential questions that governments and the Security Council cannot ignore. For instance, how were non-elected groups permitted to establish entities stronger than their own governments? Why did democratic governments accept religious and military regimes that have produced armed groups more powerful than their own armies?


          Undoubtedly, these questions and others demand the attention of the United Nations. Addressing them will result in the development of mechanisms to restore the authority of governments. Many governments worldwide are currently under the influence of powerful corporations and businessmen who prioritize immediate financial gains over human dignity and national security. This situation poses a threat to both individual countries and the international community.






[1] Al Hadath Arabic channel / November 20, 2023:



[2] Twitter, @IsraelArabic, Nov19, 2023


[3] TRT, Refutation | False information published by Israel to deny its connection to the ship held by the Houthis in Yemen, Nov 21, 2023



[4] Abraham “Rami” Ungar: Abraham “Rami” Ungar, who is known as one of the richest men in Israel
AP, By JON GAMBRELL, Nov 20, 2023



[5] Ray Car Carriers: This company was founded in 1992 and is today the largest tonnage supplier in the car carrier market. it currently owns and manages a modern fleet of high-specification vessels on long-term time charter to some of the world’s strongest shipping companies.



[6] https://news.un.org/ar/story/2017/11/285032


[7] Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 2316 (2016)


[8] Nov. 9: Houthis claim missile attacks on Israel; advanced Arrow 3 makes 1st intercept, By MICHAEL BACHNER and TOI STAFF

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