Exclusive: Behind the Scenes of Ansar Allah’s Operations aboard the Galaxy Leader Ship

Get unprecedented insight into Ansar Allah’s strategies and operations as we take you aboard the Galaxy Leader ship and speak directly with top officials.

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It was a daring raid that galvanized the world. These pivotal moments unfolded when Yemen’s Ansarrallah, recognized in the West as the Houthis, intercepted the Galaxy Leader, an Israeli-owned cargo vessel sailing through the Red Sea.

Donning traditional Yemeni attire and armed with their characteristic daggers, Ansarrallah boldly confronted Israel while neighboring Arab nations of Palestine offered only hollow words of solidarity.

Since November, Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, has enforced a blockade on vessels either wholly or partially owned by Israel, aiming to compel the apartheid state to cease its unlawful assaults on Gaza, which have resulted in the deaths of over 30,000 people, predominantly women and children.

Today, the Galaxy Leader, seized by Yemen’s resistance and held by the Yemeni military, stands as a tourist attraction on the shores of Hodeida in the Red Sea.

MintPress received an exclusive tour of the vessel and sat down with Brigadier General Mujib Shamsan, Head of the Military Spokesmen Committee in the Yemeni Army, to hear Yemen’s perspective on the matter.

Shamsan contended that Yemen’s military and Ansarrallah’s resistance adhere to international law by imposing a blockade in the Red Sea:

Americans have no right to speak about international law or on international customs and conventions, especially since they come from across the oceans thousands of miles away to the Red Sea, which is essentially not an open sea and is subject to the law of internal waters and closed seas. Regarding the Yemeni position’s compliance with international law, we know that Yemen declared an official position of entering into a war with Israel before making this decision.”

How could one of the world’s poorest nations, grappling with its own humanitarian crisis and enduring over a decade of US-Saudi aggression, stand up against one of the globe’s superpowers?

Following Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza after Hamas’ October 7 attack, Ansarrallah’s bold capture of the Galaxy Leader just a month later became a symbol of global resistance.

As images from Gaza portrayed Israel’s relentless attacks on children, hospitals, schools, aid centers, and fleeing civilians, conscientious observers pondered who would intervene on the international stage to defend Palestine as the usual so-called defenders of the free world were busy aiding, arming and abetting Israel.

While Israel persists in massacring women and children, with its political leaders and military generals openly advocating genocide, Yemen’s resistance maintains it acts within the bounds of international law to halt these atrocities, upholding Article One of the Genocide Convention, which states: “all States Parties recognize genocide as a crime under international law and undertake to prevent and punish it.”

Nevertheless, the Biden administration failed to intervene to halt Israel’s genocide, instead furnishing the apartheid state with arms and diplomatic immunity, including vetoing UN resolutions for a ceasefire.

Subsequently, Washington mobilized forces to the region to break the blockade, bombing Yemen anew and designating Ansarrallah as a terrorist entity. Ansarrallah warned that they would extend their blockade to include U.S. and British vessels if Washington and London persisted in aiding Israel’s war on Gaza. Brigadier General Shamsan told MintPress that:

When America failed to break the siege imposed by the Sanaa government on Israel and on ships heading to the occupied Palestinian ports, it tried to present the issue as a threat to international navigation and global trade for all countries. Therefore, the Sanaa government communicated through its foreign ministry with most maritime shipping companies and many other concerned countries to clarify that there is no threat or danger to them and that the threat only targets ships going to the occupied ports in Palestine and ships belonging to Israel only. Therefore, there is no danger to them.

Indeed, a large number of ships have passed, reaching 4684 in the latest statistics mentioned by Sayyed Abdulmalik Al-Houthi in a recent speech. During these days, all ships are passing through the Red Sea very normally, smoothly, and safely, especially Chinese and Russian ships and all ships unrelated to the Zionist entity.

There is no threat, and America is the one trying to pressure maritime shipping companies and other countries to present a picture to the world and the international public opinion that there is a threat to navigation in order to enable military intervention. However, all those conspiracies failed, and Sanaa continued to impose the maritime blockade on the Zionist entity.”

The blockade’s impact is evident. Thirty percent of global cargo ships traverse the Red Sea via the Bab-al-Mandab Strait, a vital maritime route valued at over $1 trillion annually.

However, Ansarrallah’s blockade compelled ships to circumnavigate Africa, disrupting global supply chains and incurring billions in losses and significant delays. Israel’s economy has already suffered billions in damages.

Shortly after its seizure, it emerged that the Galaxy Leader was owned by Abraham Ungar, an Israeli billionaire with ties to the Likud party and Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency.

However, it is Israel’s Eilat port that bore the brunt, experiencing an 85% reduction in activity. Situated adjacent to Jordan’s sole coastal access point at Aqaba, Eilat offers Israel an eastern gateway without needing to go through the Suez Canal.

Though they initially disavowed ties to the vessel, Israel, along with the U.S. and U.K., undertook a military operation against Ansarrallah on Kamaran Island to reclaim the cargo ship. According to Brigadier General Shamsan:

There was indeed an attempt to carry out an airborne operation on the island of Kamaran as part of military plans aimed at penetrating the areas near and surrounding the Galaxy Leadership. However, those attempts failed, and the Americans and the British received harsh lessons in naval warfare. They now acknowledge the outcomes of those confrontations, which they had not experienced before, especially against forces that are still in their early stages or, rather, in the stage of restructuring and redevelopment.”

Kamaran Island, situated on the Bab-al-Mandab Strait, historically served as a strategic asset in controlling Red Sea access. It was occupied by the United Kingdom at the onset of World War I for this reason.

Despite diplomatic and military endeavors by Israel, the U.S., and the U.K. to recover the ship, Yemen maintained its steadfast blockade, refusing to return the Galaxy Leader until Israel ceases hostilities.

However, tensions between Yemen and Israel did not originate on October 7th.

Since Israel’s establishment in 1948, its founder and first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, identified Yemen as a threat. Ben-Gurion emphasized the necessity of controlling the Bab-al-Mandab Strait, as Yemen was among the earliest Arab nations to oppose the European and British initiative to create the state ofIsrael in historic Palestine.

Consequently, diplomatic relations between Israel and Yemen have been nonexistent.

In 1982, Yemen extended support to Palestine, inviting the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to seek refuge after being expelled from Lebanon. After it was isolated by Arab neighbors following U.S.-mediated peace agreements with Israel, the PLO found sanctuary in Yemen’s strategic Kamaran Islands to bolster its liberation campaign.

A 1985 CIA document detailed Israel’s intentions and capabilities to strike the PLO on the Kamaran Islands after Yemen furnished naval assistance to empower their resistance.

Thus, Yemen views the state of Israel as a settler colonial project of the West and deems its support for Palestine as resistance against Western imperialism and colonialism.

Yemen’s military and Ansarrallah vigilantly monitor the humanitarian crisis in Gaza to determine their next course of action, entrusting the fate of the Galaxy Leader to Palestine’s resistance. Brigadier General Mujib Shamsan told MintPress that:

There were multiple attempts regarding the “Galaxy Leader”. Initially, the Americans, the British, and the Israelis all attempted to deny any connection between this ship and Israel. However, it has been confirmed that the ship has ties to an Israeli trader and businessman who is also linked to Israeli intelligence. There have been multiple attempts through diplomatic channels to return the ship, but they were rejected by the Sanaa government because this pressure tactic was fundamentally linked to what was happening in Gaza. The Yemeni leadership left this option to the Palestinian resistance. In other words, everything Yemen does, whether detaining the ship or hitting others, is closely related to the rhythm of the field operations in the battle of Gaza. Therefore, the option presented is the option of Palestinian resistance and its decision. All diplomatic offers will be rejected unless there is a green light from the Palestinian resistance regarding its negotiations with Israel and its position. All options, negotiations, and offers related to the ship will be rejected by any party, considering that Yemen’s position on the Gaza war is a principled, ethical, and humanitarian position that is not subject to compromise or bargaining.

While many countries in the region possess the means to inflict similar and even harsher economic repercussions as Yemen to end the Gaza conflict, they choose not to. Despite issuing stern statements, Palestine’s neighbors covertly assist Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan established land corridors to alleviate Israel’s pressure from the Ansarrallah Red Sea blockade. Egypt facilitates container shipments from its ports to Israel’s Ashdod port, ensuring uninterrupted Israeli commerce. Turkey maintains oil flow to Israel via its pipeline, and Morocco constructs a military base for Israel’s largest arms company, Elbit Systems.

Consequently, while numerous neighboring states neglected to aid Gaza amid relentless Israeli bombardment, Yemen emerged as one of its most steadfast allies.

Yemen’s unwavering commitment to assisting Palestine, regardless of the cost, is especially noteworthy considering its dire humanitarian plight.

The UN estimates that 80% of Yemen’s population requires humanitarian assistance, with over 14 million people in acute need right now due to US-backed Saudi-led airstrikes and an illegal blockade.

Despite enduring incessant airstrikes, Yemenis continue to congregate every Friday in Sanaa’s streets, pledging unwavering support for Palestine, prepared to sacrifice everything for their Palestinian brethren.

As the U.S. and Saudi Arabia persist in bombarding Yemen, the prospect of a new American conflict in the Middle East looms, reminiscent of the devastating wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

Yemen’s recent calls for allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza as a famine grows during Ramadan have been ignored by Israel.

In response, Yemen announced it’s expanding the blockade to include banning Israeli ships from passing through the Indian Ocean. According to Brigadier General Shamsan, that may be just the beginning:

The biggest threat to regional and national security for all Arab countries bordering the Red Sea and in the region is the military presence of the United States and Britain. Before the recent events, it was the Americans who practiced extortion and were behind ship hijackings, meaning that when America creates justifications and pretexts, it creates an opportunity for itself to be present in the region. However, in light of the current transformations in the region, these data have become unacceptable, so America did not realize that the situation has changed, and there are new equations. Today, America has lost its ability to deter and at the same time, sees that the option of force is the most appropriate and what can be used to restore that image. However, the United States was surprised by the Yemeni stance that was not taken into consideration, especially after the historic decision to close the Bab-el-Mandeb strait. The Americans had a reading and estimation of the situation that a decision like closing the Bab-el-Mandeb strait required to be taken by collective Arab countries and armies. However, for a country like Yemen, which has been destroyed in its capabilities and potential over nine years, it was supposed to be very difficult to make such a decision.

But America, Britain, and Israel were surprised that Yemen made this decision and was able to implement it on the ground, and here were the ramifications at the strategic level and on the level of the region as a whole. We do not say that the impact of the decision to close the Bab-el-Mandeb strait is only related to the immediate battle, in the sense of its repercussions on the military and economic battle of Israel, America, or Britain, but on the contrary, a decision of the size of closing the Bab-el-Mandeb strait goes beyond the future security issue to the future and strategic horizon, because it means at the very least the restoration of Yemen’s regional and international role as a balanced sphere with political, military, and strategic weight. This is what the Zionist entity, America, and Britain feared because if a genuine Yemeni state is found that can regain the weight and importance of its strategic position, this will bring about a strategic transformation at the level of the entire region. Because all the components present in the region were given weight and importance at the expense of important countries like Yemen and Egypt, so in the event of the return of these countries to their forefront, other countries that were given a major role, like the Gulf countries, which were nothing but cantons and small states according to the Bernard Lewis plan for power and wealth divisions, will disappear.

Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh.