Yemen's Houthi rebels have confirmed that they have hijacked India-bound "Israeli cargo ship" in the Red Sea, changing the course of ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict into a new direction on the seas.

"The Houthis announce the implementation of a military operation in the Red Sea, the results of which included the seizure of an Israeli ship," Houthi military spokesman Yehya Sarea said on Sunday in a statement aired by the group's al-Masirah TV.

Renewing the rebel group's threat to target all ships belonging to or dealing with Israel, Sarea called on "all countries whose citizens work in the Red Sea to stop any activity with Israeli ships or ships rented by Israelis".

Yemen Civil War
[Representative Image] In Picture: People stand at the site of an airstrike which witnesses said was by Saudi-led coalition aircraft on mourners at a hall where a wake for the father of Jalal al-Roweishan, the interior minister in the Houthi-dominated Yemeni government, was being held, in Sanaa, Yemen 8 October 2016.Reuters

The spokesman reiterated that the group would continue to carry out military operations against Israel until "its aggression against the Gaza Strip" stops, Xinhua news agency reported.

Israel Confirms

Hours earlier, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Sunday in a statement that the Houthis took control of the cargo ship near Yemen in the southern Red Sea, adding that the vessel was heading from Turkey to India.

IDF warned that the hijacking was "a very grave incident of global consequence". The ship was identified as the Galaxy Leader, a cargo ship that transports cars, according to a report by the Saudi-based Al Arabiya TV news.

Israel counter attacks
Israel counter attacksIANS

Israel's state-owned Kan TV news reported that the ship was operated by a Japanese company, which leased it from a British company co-owned by Rami Ungar, an Israeli shipping mogul and importer of vehicles.

Marine Traffic, an online vessel tracking platform, published its last update about the hijacked Galaxy Leader at 13:04 local time on Saturday.

The Houthi militia controls much of Yemen's north, including the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah since the Yemeni civil war erupted in late 2014.

(With inputs from IANS)