Yemen’s Houthi rebels announced today that they seized an Israeli merchant ship in the Red Sea and drove it off the coast of Yemen. The Israeli military denied that it was an Israeli ship.

“We took control of an Israeli cargo ship”one of the rebel leaders said, clarifying that an official announcement would be issued later.

According to port sources, the ship was taken to al-Salif port in the city of Hodeidah.

The ship had sailed from Turkey bound for India. Citizens of various nationalities were on board, but no one was Israeli. It is not an Israeli ship,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

Houthi rebels threatened on Tuesday to target Israeli ships in the Red Sea after claiming responsibility for attacks against Israel during the war in the Gaza Strip.

The Houthis, who control Yemen’s capital Sanaa, are ‘part of the axis of resistance’ against Israel, consisting of Iranian-backed organizations such as the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah.

With an announcement from his office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “strongly condemned the Iranian attack on an international ship”.

“The vessel owned by a British company and chartered by a Japanese company, was arrested under Iranian orders by the Yemeni Houthi militia,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.

“25 crew members of various nationalities are on board the ship, mainly of Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican nationality. No Israelis are on board. This is a new act of Iranian terrorism and another step in Iran’s attack against the citizens of the free world, with international implications for the safety of the world’s shipping lanes, the announcement states.