Yemen's Houthi rebels hijacked an Israeli-leased cargo ship and 22 crewmembers on board, Saudi media reported on Sunday.
The vessel, named the Galaxy Leader, was carrying cars from Turkey and was seized in the southern Red Sea en route to India. She is registered under the Bahamian flag and has Nassau as her home port.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident an "Iranian attack against an international vessel."
"The ship, owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese firm, was hijacked under Iranian direction by the Houthi militia in Yemen,” a statement from his office read.
“The vessel had 25 crew members of various nationalities, including Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Filipinos and Mexicans; no Israelis were on board.
"This is another act of Iranian terrorism, representing a significant escalation in Iran's aggression against the citizens of the free world, and has international implications for the security of global shipping routes."
The IDF called the hijacking of the cargo ship "a very grave incident of global consequence." The army added that the vessel was "staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship."
Earlier on Sunday, the Houthis, backed by Israel's arch-foe Iran, declared their intention to target any ships flying the Israeli flag or owned/operated by Israeli companies.
In their statement, they called on countries to evacuate their citizens from such vessels and advised against using them to transport goods. They also urged nations to notify these ships to steer clear of their ports.