Yemen’s Houthis say they launched two attacks against ships at Haifa port

The Yemeni group says military operations launched jointly with Iraqi groups, but Israel denies attacks.

houthis
The Houthis have attacked international shipping in the Red Sea since November in what they say is a campaign of solidarity with Palestinians [File: Osamah Abdulrahman/AP Photo]

Yemen’s Houthis have launched two joint military operations with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq against ships at Israel’s Haifa port, the group’s military spokesperson Yahya Saree says in a televised speech.

“The first targeted two ships carrying military equipment in the port of Haifa while the second targeted a ship that violated the decision to ban entry to the port,” Saree said on Thursday.

“The two operations were carried out with a number of [drones], and the strikes … were accurate.”

The Israeli military was quick to deny the claim, calling it “not true”.

The Houthis and Iran-backed Iraqi groups operating under the name of Islamic Resistance have been separately claiming attacks on Israeli interests in the region.

The results of Thursday’s operations remain unclear, but the announcement shows a growing level of coordination between various groups in the Iran-allied “axis of resistance”, which also includes Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

The latest attack comes in response to the “massacres of the Israeli enemy in Rafah” in the southern Gaza Strip, the Houthis said.

Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi said the group’s operations with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq against Israel would intensify.

The Houthis, who control Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and present themself as the country’s official armed forces, have attacked international shipping in the Red Sea since November in what they say is a campaign of solidarity with Palestinians and against Israel’s assault on Gaza.

More ‘joint operations’

The claimed attack came amid growing fears of regional escalation as Israel’s war on Gaza, which has killed more than 36,500 Palestinians, drags on.

Hezbollah recently said it is “ready for an all-out war” with Israel if the conflict is imposed on it. The group and Israel have been exchanging fire almost daily for the past eight months.

Last month, days before Israel’s army launched an offensive on the overcrowded city of Rafah, the Houthis warned that they will target ships heading to Israeli ports in any area within their range.

The attacks have forced shipping firms to reroute cargo on longer and more expensive journeys around Southern Africa.

Saree said the Israeli army should expect “more specific joint operations” until its “brutal and criminal aggression stops and its siege against our people in the Gaza Strip is lifted”.

A United States-led military coalition has been bombing Houthi targets since January, but the Yemeni group has continued its attacks.

Since October 7, Israeli forces have destroyed much of Gaza, forced about 1.7 million people from their homes and pushed the besieged enclave to the brink of famine.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies