Yemen's Huthis threaten to attack Israeli ships in Red Sea
November 15, 2023 09:52 AM
Yemen's Huthi rebels on Tuesday threatened to target Israeli ships in the Red Sea, as the group said they had launched another missile targeting the country over its war with Hamas.
Rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Huthi said the Iran-backed group was monitoring for Israeli vessels in the commercially vital waters, even those that do not have Israeli flags.
"Our eyes are open to constant monitoring and searching for any Israeli ship," he said in a speech broadcast by the rebels' Al-Masirah TV station.
"The enemy relies on camouflage in its movement in the Red Sea, especially in Bab al-Mandab (strait), and did not dare to raise Israeli flags on its ships... and turned off identification devices."
"We will search and verify the ships that belong to him, and we will not hesitate to target them, and let everyone know that he is afraid," he added.
The Bab al-Mandab Strait is the narrow pass between Yemen and Djibouti at the foot of the Red Sea, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, which carries about a fifth of global oil consumption.
The Huthis, declaring themselves part of the "axis of resistance" of Iran-affiliated groups, have launched a series of drone and missile strikes targeting Israel since last month.
It is the first entry into a foreign war for the Huthis, who control much of impoverished Yemen and have been fighting a Saudi-led coalition since 2015.
"Our missiles and drones will continue," Huthi said.
- 'Intercepted' -
Huthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said the rebels had "launched a batch of ballistic missiles at various targets", including the southern Israeli resort of Eilat.
This came "only 24 hours after another military operation carried out by our armed forces with drones on the same targets", he said on X, formerly Twitter.
The Israeli army said it had "identified and successfully intercepted" a missile in the area of the Red Sea after sirens sounded in Eilat.
"The target did not cross into Israeli territory, and was intercepted according to protocol," it said in a statement on Telegram.
Israel has vowed to rout out and destroy Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, after the Palestinian militants killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages on October 7, according to Israeli authorities.
More than 11,300 people have since died in retaliatory strikes in Gaza by Israel, the territory's Hamas-run health ministry has said.
But the Red Sea is a potential area of escalation, where the Huthis could lay sea mines, seize ships or use anti-ship missiles and water-borne drones, analysts say.
Huthi criticised the meeting of Arab and Muslim leaders held in Riyadh on Saturday, saying it "did not come up with any position or practical action, and this is sad and shameful".
The joint Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit condemned Israeli forces' actions in Gaza but declined to approve punitive economic and political steps.
The rebel leader also urged countries separating Yemen from the Palestinian territories -- Saudi, Jordan and Egypt -- to open a "land crossing" to allow fighters to join the war alongside Hamas.