Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Home Tourist Attraction Galaxy Leader cargo ship seized by Yemen’s Houthis now a ‘tourist attraction’

Galaxy Leader cargo ship seized by Yemen’s Houthis now a ‘tourist attraction’

by Staff

A US-led naval coalition has responded by patrolling the Red Sea, and US and British forces have struck military sites of the Houthis, now designated a “global terrorist” group by Washington, to keep open the vital shipping lane.

People on board the Galaxy Leader cargo ship. Photo: AFP

This has done little to dampen the mood on the sightseeing trips to the seized vessel, which is now decorated with Yemeni and Palestinian flags and banners displaying anti-American and anti-Israel slogans.

On a recent visit, Zubair al-Haidari, from the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa, said he had travelled for five hours to see the “Israeli ship” anchored off Hodeida on the Red Sea coast.

Great power lite? Why China is reluctant to wade into the Red Sea crisis

It is our “pride and honour … that our armed forces have accomplished this wonderful work in supporting our oppressed brothers in Palestine and in Gaza,” he said.

He was among some 10 visitors taking pictures with their mobile phones as they chewed khat, a plant that generates a mild high and is widely consumed in the Arabian peninsula’s poorest country.

On board the ship, some visitors performed a traditional dance featuring the daggers that many Yemenis carry tucked into their belts, accompanied by chants glorifying the Houthis.

On the deck of the Galaxy Leader, none of the visitors said they had seen the 25 crew members who are Bulgarian, Filipino, Ukrainian and Mexican and whose fate remains unknown.

The Galaxy Leader is owned by a British company, which is in turn owned by an Israeli businessman.

It had been chartered by a Japanese company when it was captured on November 19 by the Houthis, who said they were acting in “solidarity” with people in the besieged Gaza Strip.

A Houthi forces helicopter approaching the Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea in November. Photo: Houthi Media Centre via AP

Amid the Gaza war, the Houthis have launched numerous attacks against shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, threatening an essential global trade route.

Hizam al-Assad, of the Houthi political bureau, referred to the Galaxy Leader as a “tourist attraction” and said the visitors were “proof that the Yemeni people … are impatient to meet the enemy and confront him”.

Another visitor, Hamada al-Baydani, said he had travelled 400km (250 miles) from Al-Bayda, to see the seized ship, which he labelled “a source of pride for Yemenis”.

Several days after detaining the vessel, the Houthis published a video showing a military general welcoming a group they said was the crew, but the militants have not provided any information on their fate since.

After an hour on board under the scorching sun, the visitors made their way back home, chanting “God is the greatest, death to America, death to Israel”.

Leave a Comment

Copyright ©️ All rights reserved. | Tourism Trends