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US mulls listing Houthis as terrorist org over Israeli ship

US mulls listing Houthis as terrorist organisation, over seizure of Israeli ship
2 min read
21 November, 2023
After the Houthis seized a ship with ties to an Israeli businessman in the Red Sea, the US is considering placing the Yemeni group on its list of terrorist organisations.
The Houthis seized the Israel-linked ship in retaliation for Israel's war on Gaza [Getty]

The United States said Tuesday it was considering designating Yemen's Houthi rebels a terrorist organisation after their seizure of an Israel-linked cargo vessel in the Red Sea.

The capture on Sunday of the Galaxy Leader and its 25 international crew came days after the Iran-backed Houthis threatened to target Israeli shipping over Israel's war on Gaza

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that "in light of... the piracy of a ship in international waters, we have begun a review of potential terrorist designations and we'll be considering other options together with our allies and partners as well."

The Bahamas-flagged, British-owned Galaxy Leader is operated by a Japanese firm but has links to Israeli businessman Abraham "Rami" Ungar.

Kirby called on the rebels to "release that ship immediately -- as well as the crew -- and unconditionally."

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The Houthis said the capture was in retaliation for Israel's war against Gaza, which has led to the deaths of more than 14,000 Palestinians, including almost 6000 children. 

The H0uthis have declared themselves part of the "axis of resistance" of Iran's allies and proxies and have also launched a series of drones and missiles towards Israel.

Washington removed them from its list of "terrorist organisations" in February 2021.

Officials felt that the designation was complicating the response to the humanitarian crisis in war torn Yemen, which is partly controlled by the rebel group.