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Houthi group targets 2 commercial ships heading to Israel

December 15, 2023 at 8:30 pm

A screen grab captured from a video shows that cargo ship “Galaxy Leader”, co-owned by an Israeli company, being hijacked by Iran-backed Houthis from Yemen in the Red Sea on November 20, 2023. [Houthis Media Center – Anadolu Agency]

The Yemeni Houthi group, on Friday, said it struck two commercial vessels in the Red Sea, claiming that they were sailing to Israel, Anadolu Agency reports.

In a statement, the Houthi group’s military spokesman, Yahya Saree, said his group “carried out a military operation against two container ships – ‘MSC Alanya” and “MSC PALATIUM III” – that were heading to Israel.”

He said the attack was carried out by two missiles and took place “after the two ships’ crews refused to respond to calls from our naval forces.”

Saree also said the attack was in support of the Palestinian people, and stressed his group “will continue to prevent all ships from heading to Israeli ports” until food and medicines are allowed into the Gaza Strip.

READ: Shipping industry urges caution on use of armed guards on Red Sea vessels

Early on Friday, US and European sources reported that two Liberia-flagged cargo ships came under attack in the Red Sea, without causing severe damage.

The Houthi group assured that all vessels are safe to go through the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea except for the Israel-owned ships or those heading to Israel.

Last week, US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Washington was holding talks with its allies on establishing a “maritime task force” to ensure “safe passage of ships in the Red Sea.”

Previously, a Houthi spokesman said they would target all ships heading to Israel, regardless of their nationality, and warned all shipping companies to avoid dealing with Israeli ports.

The group’s operations against vessels coincide with Israel’s attacks on Gaza since an 7 October  cross-border offensive by the Palestinian group, Hamas.

READ: Houthis seize cargo ship, force it to head to Yemen