Yemen’s Houthi movement says it will target all ships heading to Israel, regardless of their nationality, and warned all international shipping companies against dealing with Israeli ports.
“If Gaza does not receive the food and medicines it needs, all ships in the Red Sea bound for Israeli ports, regardless of their nationality, will become a target for our armed forces,” the group’s spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday.
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The threat has an immediate effect, the statement added.
The Iran-aligned group is escalating the risks of a regional conflict as Israel continues to bombard Gaza for a third month, killing more than 17,700 people so far and wounding nearly 49,000 others.
In recent weeks, the Houthis have attacked and seized several Israeli-linked ships in the Red Sea and its Bab al-Mandeb strait, a sea lane through which much of the world’s oil is shipped, and fired ballistic missiles and armed drones at Israel.
In one of the latest incidents, three commercial vessels came under attack in international waters last week, prompting a US Navy destroyer to intervene.
Last week, the Houthis attacked two ships off the Yemeni coast, including a Bahamas-flagged vessel, claiming they were Israeli-owned.
And last month, the rebel forces seized Galaxy Leader, an Israeli-linked cargo vessel as they warned they would target all ships with links to Israel and called on different countries not to allow their nationals to serve as crew on these vessels.
Houthi officials say their actions are a show of support for the Palestinians. Israel says the attacks on ships were an “Iranian act of terrorism” with consequences for international maritime security.
The US and the UK have condemned the attacks, blaming Iran for its role in supporting the Houthis. Tehran says its allies make their decisions independently.