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Houthi rebels use hijacked cargo ship as pro-Hamas tourist attraction

Dec 06, 2023


The deck of hijacked cargo ship Galaxy Leader is now filled with messages expressing support for Hamas, the group that attacked Israel on Oct. 7. Yemen’s Houthi rebels seized control of the ship last month in the Red Sea, transforming it into a tourist attraction to commemorate their solidarity and support of the Palestinians’ efforts in the Gaza Strip.

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Video content on social media suggests that the militant group is hosting guests while the crew and the ship remain hostage. Houthi youths and social media influencers have been visiting for photo shoots, including dancing on the top deck, waving Yemeni flags and chanting victory slogans.

According to Reuters, the 25 crew members have been allowed “modest contact” with their families while still aboard the hijacked cargo ship. The U.S., Bahamas and Japan have all called for the release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew.

The vessel’s crew is made up of nationals from Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico and Romania, Galaxy Maritime said. The vessel is chartered by Japan’s Nippon Yusen.

Japan’s delegation told the International Maritime Organization assembly that it “strongly condemns those acts which threaten the safety and freedom of navigation in that area”.

The Bahamas said the various attacks including the Galaxy Leader were a “violation of all of the norms relating to innocent passage of ships”.

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