AL-MUKALLA: The Houthis have threatened again to launch missile and drone strikes against Israeli ships traversing the Red Sea as well as Israel itself, amid mounting international pressure on the Yemeni militia.
Houthi Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Al-Atefi said on Wednesday that the militia would continue to block the Red Sea for ships owned or operated by Israel and would fire ballistic missiles and drones at Israel, defying international calls for the militia to stop threatening maritime navigation in the Red Sea.
“In support of our people in Gaza, the navy, missile, and drone forces are ready to conduct the toughest individual and collective attacks on fixed or moving targets in Israel,” Al-Atefi said while addressing a group of military and security officers, as well as media, aboard the seized cargo ship Galaxy Leader.
Al-Atefi’s warnings came as the militia’s military declared the firing of a number of ballistic missiles targeting military sites in Eilat, south of Israel.
Since the beginning of this month, the Houthis have fired drones and ballistic missiles toward Israel and commercial ships in the Red Sea in response to Israel’s assault in Gaza.
Several drones and missiles were intercepted over the Red Sea by US Navy ships.
The Houthis seized the Israeli-linked cargo ship Galaxy Leader from the Red Sea on Nov. 19 and diverted it to the shore of Yemen’s Hodeidah.
The militia transformed the seized ship into a tourist attraction, allowing visitors to board for 500 Yemeni riyals (almost a dollar in Houthi cities).
People were seen wandering around the ship, dancing in groups, and chewing the hobby qat leaves, according to social media influencers.
Images on social media showed tiny boats transporting passengers from Hodeidah’s shoreline to the ship.
Others were spotted snapping pictures and waving Palestinian and Yemeni flags.
The slogans of the Houthis were displayed on the ship.
“The ship is available to everybody for 500 riyals. Life is great here since one may chew (qat), alter his mood, smoke shisha, and even earn a livelihood,” Mustafa Al-Maouri, a Yemeni online influencer who was kidnapped by the Houthis and placed on trial earlier this year, said on the ship’s top deck.
Meanwhile, Tim Lenderking, US Yemen envoy, met with Aidarous Al-Zubeidi, deputy president of Yemen’s Presidential Transitional Council, in Dubai on Thursday to discuss Houthi threats to international commercial traffic in the Red Sea and peace efforts to end the conflict in Yemen.
“We discussed the urgent maritime security concerns and challenges in the Red Sea and Bab Al-Mandab considering the recent escalation by the Houthis and reviewed together the latest updates regarding the UN-led political peace process to end the war in #Yemen,” Al-Zubeidi said on the social media platform X.
The US Department of State said that Lenderking traveled to the region on Monday to push for a peaceful resolution to the Yemen crisis and to discuss with US partners measures to maintain the safety of international commerce.