Iranian-aligned group hijacks vessel with Bulgarians aboard in the Red Sea

The Iranian-aligned Houthi movement has seized a vessel in the Red Sea with Bulgarians among other nationalities aboard, according to a statement on November 19 by the Israeli government and media reports.

Earlier in the day, a spokesman for the Houthi movement, Yahya Sarea, said that the group would attack all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or flying the Israeli flag, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The Houthi movement’s slogan is “Allah Is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam”.

In a message on X (, the office of the Israeli Prime Minister said that Israel strongly condemns 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, the Israeli Prime Minister’s office said.

Onboard the vessel are 25 crew members of various nationalities including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican. No Israelis are onboard, it said.

“This is another act of Iranian terrorism and constitutes a leap forward in Iran’s aggression against the citizens of the free world, with international consequences regarding the security of the global shipping lanes,” the Israeli PM’s office said.

According to the Jerusalem Post report, Sarea called on all countries to recall their nationals working on all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or flying the Israeli flag, which the Houthi said it would attack.

The reported incident comes in the context of the war between the State of Israel and the Hamas terrorist organisation.

According to the report, the hijacked ship, a car carrier sailing under the flag of the Bahamas, is the Galaxy Leader. It had not reported its whereabouts since Saturday morning. The UK company that owns the vessel was founded by Israeli business person Rami Unger. The vessel bears the name of Japan’s largest shipping company, the NYK Line.

Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry told Bulgarian National Television on November 19 that it was seeking to confirm the reports.

Bulgarian Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov told Nova Televizia on November 19 that according to unconfirmed information, there were two Bulgarians aboard the vessel, one of them its captain.

(Archive photo: Garitzko, via Wikimedia Commons)

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