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Iranian-backed rebels seize tanker in Red Sea, marking third ship under their control

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Israeli-owned cargo ship damaged in kamikaze drone attack

An Israeli-owned cargo ship was reportedly damaged in an Iranian Shahed-136 kamikaze drone attack in the Indian Ocean last Friday, according to The Jewish Press. This comes just a week after another Israel-linked cargo ship was hijacked by Houthi rebels in the southern Red Sea. The attacks indicate an escalating conflict between Iran and Israel.

Houthi rebels seize Liberian-flagged Central Park tanker

Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran, have seized the Liberian-flagged Central Park tanker in the Red Sea, making it the third ship under their control. The vessel is managed by Zodiac Maritime, a company part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer's Zodiac Group. The attackers took control of the tanker in the Gulf of Aden, according to private intelligence firm Ambrey and confirmed by an American defense official.

Concern for crew's safety

Zodiac Maritime has described the seizure as a "suspected piracy incident" and expressed concern for the safety of the 22 crew members onboard. The vessel, captained by a Turkish national, has a multinational crew consisting of individuals from Russia, Vietnam, Bulgaria, India, Georgia, and the Philippines. The tanker is carrying a full cargo of phosphoric acid.

Ownership confusion

While Zodiac Maritime claims that the Central Park is owned by Clumvez Shipping Inc., other records directly link Zodiac as the owner. The London-based company is part of the Zodiac Group owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer. British corporate records also list individuals with the last name Ofer as directors of Clumvez Shipping, including Daniel Guy Ofer, who is also a director at Zodiac Maritime.

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