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Armed rebels seize and release Israel-linked tanker in Red Sea

Nov 27, 2023

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Armed assailants seized and released a tanker linked to Israel off the coast of Yemen on Sunday, Nov. 26. The U.S. Central Command, including the USS Mason, responded to the seizure and demanded the assailants release the tanker. The United States Navy apprehended at least five armed rebels during the struggle.

“We’re continuing to assess, but initial indications are that these five individuals are Somali,” said Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder.

“Clearly a piracy related incident,” Ryder added.

Central Park, a tanker managed by Zodiac Maritime Ltd, a London-headquartered international ship management company owned by Israel’s Ofer family. The Liberian-flagged vessel was built in 2015 and is owned by Clumvez Shipping Inc.

During the Central Park tanker’s distress call, two ballistic missiles from Houthi-controlled Yemen landed near U.S. warships.

U.S. military officials say nobody was harmed in the attacks.

There have been a series of attacks in Middle Eastern waters since the outbreak of war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Oct. 7. Vessel attacks, involving the firing of missiles and drones toward tankers associated with Israel, are escalating.

Yemen’s internationally-recognized government blamed the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels for the attack, though the rebels in control of the capital, Sanaa, did not acknowledge either the seizure or the missile attack.

The Central Park seizure comes after a container ship, CMA CGM Symi, owned by another Israeli billionaire, came under attack Friday by a suspected Iranian drone in the Indian Ocean. Iran has denied any involvement in the ship seizures.

Last week, the Houthis also seized an Israeli cargo ship, Galaxy Leader. The Galaxy Leader is linked to Israeli billionaire Abraham “Rami” Ungar.

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