General Yahya Sarea, spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, issued a statement on November 19. He declared that in response to the ongoing war on the Gaza Strip, the Houthis would target any Israeli-linked ships, those flying the Israeli flag or owned or operated by Israeli companies. Sarea urged all countries to pull their employees from these ships and to not work with them or be near them at sea.
Houthis Seize an Israeli Ship in Red Sea
Later that day, at 6:34 p.m., Sarea announced the seizure of an Israeli ship, escorted to Yemeni shores.
Israel Denies Connection to the Ship
In response, the Israeli Prime Minister’s office said that it was “an Iranian terrorist attack," while the Israeli army considered it to be a “dangerous incident” with international implications.
This occurred at a time when a claim was circulating on social platforms and in media outlets, saying that the ship belonged to an Israeli businessman. Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari subsequently commented that the ship is not Israeli, which was underlined by the other spokesman, Avichay Adraee, in a post on the X platform.
Does Israel Really Have Nothing To Do With the Ship?
Upon analyzing pictures of the ship claimed by Israel to have been taken over by the Houthis, it seems to bear the name "Galaxy Leader."
After obtaining the ship’s code, IMO 9237307, Misbar looked it up on the Baltic Shipping database - one of the biggest marine sailing databases - and found that the owner and operator of the ship is a British company called Ray Car Carriers.
Through investigating the company’s information from open sources, Misbar identified the company’s owner, Abraham Ungar, also known as Rami Ungar, an Israeli-American businessman and one of the richest men in Israel. Additionally, he owns another company named Ray Shipping LTD, as well as other companies in the shipbuilding and marine shipping industries.
Upon researching the company’s registration location, Misbar found that it was on The Isle of Man, also known as Mann, a self-governing British Crown Dependency situated in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. Although the island is not part of the United Kingdom or the European Union, it operates as a British crown dependency with an independent administration. Furthermore, it is recognized as a tax haven, attracting a significant foreign financial sector for investment purposes.
The Company’s Financial Director Is an Israeli Citizen
Further research into open-source databases shows that the company’s financial director is Israeli national Avi Voler, who has various interests and connections to the Ungar family. Although the latter deleted his picture from LinkedIn, Misbar was able to retrieve it using the Rocket Search engine.
Ungar Named in a High-Profile Corruption Case
Additional investigation indicates that Ungar’s name emerged in a high-profile corruption case. He was implicated in the Paradise Papers investigation, which was published in 2017. Misbar discovered his involvement in establishing several shell companies aimed at facilitating tax evasion. Among these shell companies was Ray Car Carriers, the owner and operator of the Galaxy Leader ship, which was seized by the Houthis.
What Are Paradise Papers?
The Paradise Papers constituted a leak of over 13.4 million confidential documents concerning foreign investments. These documents were disclosed to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which formed a consortium of journalists to analyze them. The investigations illuminated the utilization of tax havens by companies and affluent individuals.
The leak contained information regarding the financial interests and foreign activities of politicians, world leaders, and major companies. It exposed how individuals and entities use foreign accounts for various purposes, including tax evasion and potentially illegal activities.
Daniel Hagari’s statement, asserting that the company owning the ship has no ties to Israel, is misleading. These findings debunk it. However, this statement is part of the misleading claims perpetuated by Israel and the occupying army since the aggression in Gaza began. Misbar has debunked many of these claims.