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For a mere dollar per trip, visitors are taken to the car carrier, celebrated by the Huthis as a trophy in their solidarity with the Palestinians.

Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza on Oct. 7, the Huthis have escalated their actions, launching missile and drone attacks on passing commercial ships that they claim are connected to Israel. In response, a U.S.-led naval coalition has been patrolling the Red Sea, and U.S. and British forces have targeted Huthi military sites. The group has been designated a "global terrorist" organization by Washington to secure the crucial shipping lane.

Galaxy Leaders attracts visitors

Despite these measures, the mood remains upbeat during sightseeing trips to the seized vessel. Adorned with Yemeni and Palestinian flags, along with banners displaying anti-American and anti-Israel slogans, the Galaxy Leader has become a symbolic space for the Huthis.

During a recent visit, Zubair al-Haidari, a visitor from the Huthi-controlled capital Sanaa, expressed pride in the accomplishment of their armed forces. The ship, which he referred to as the "Israeli ship," is seen as a testament to their support for the oppressed brothers in Palestine and Gaza.

Visitors, numbering around 10 during the recent tour, captured the moment on their mobile phones while indulging in khat, a plant widely consumed in the Arabian peninsula for its mild high. Onboard, traditional dances featuring daggers, a common accessory for Yemenis, were performed, accompanied by chants glorifying the Huthis.

Notably, none of the interviewed visitors on the Galaxy Leader mentioned encountering the 25 crew members, who are of Bulgarian, Filipino, Ukrainian, and Mexican nationality, and whose fate remains unknown.

Owned by a British company, which is, in turn, owned by an Israeli businessman, the Galaxy Leader had been chartered by a Japanese company when it was captured on Nov. 19 by the Huthis. The rebels justified their actions as an act of "solidarity" with the people in the besieged Gaza Strip. Amid the Gaza war, the Huthis have continued to pose a threat to shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, jeopardizing a vital global trade route.