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Tanker Linked to Israeli Billionaire Ofer Boarded Off Yemen

Tanker Linked to Israeli Billionaire Ofer Boarded Off Yemen
epa09392036 Japanese-owned tanker Mercer Street, arrives to Fujairah coast, United Arab Emirates, 03 August 2021. The vessel which is operated by Israeli company Eyal Ofer was attacked off the coast of Oman four days earlier. A British citizen and the ship's Romanian captain were killed in the incident. EPA-EFE/ALI HAIDER

A chemical tanker with ties to an Israeli-affiliated company was boarded in the waters between Yemen and Somalia on Sunday, the ship’s managers said in an emailed statement. 

The Liberian-flagged Central Park “was involved in a suspected piracy incident” about 54 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, according to Zodiac Maritime, part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group. Zodiac later confirmed that the vessel, crew and cargo are “unharmed,” according to a separate statement.

US naval forces also are “engaged in the situation” with the Central Park, which Yemen-based Houthi rebels had previously threatened to attack if it didn’t change course to the Yemeni port of Hodeidah.

Read: UK Navy: Vessel Approached in South of Yemen, Crew Safe

Zodiac in its statement said its priority was the safety of the ship’s multinational crew of 22 from six countries, under the command of a Turkish captain. The vessel is carrying phosphoric acid, it said.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said it was “aware that a vessel was boarded by unauthorized persons” and advised ships in the vicinity to exercise caution.

Read: UK Navy: Aware of Reports of Possible Attack South West of Yemen

The incident is the latest in a string of attacks on ships with ties to Israel since Iranian-backed Houthi rebels based in Yemen issued a threat to continue targeting ships until Israel’s military operation against Hamas ends.

A week ago, Houthi rebels seized the Galaxy Leader, a car carrier sailing under a Bahamian flag, with a 25-person crew.

Earlier on Sunday, the UKMTO reported another vessel in the area had been approached by “two black and white craft carrying eight persons in military style clothing.”

The Houthis’ location in Yemen is well positioned to target vessels transiting from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea and on to Egypt’s Suez Canal, which links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.

Read more: Why Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Are Taking Aim at Israel: QuickTake

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