Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels announced on Saturday night that they will target any Israel-bound ship in the Red Sea regardless of the vessel’s ownership.
In a rambling thread posted on X, formerly called Twitter, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, leader of the Houthi rebels wrote, “The Yemeni Armed Forces announce that they will prevent the passage of ships heading to the Zionist entity of any nationality, if they do not enter the Gaza Strip where they need food and medicine, and it will become a legitimate target for our armed forces.”
He added, “Out of concern for the safety of maritime navigation, we warn all ships and companies against dealing with Israeli ports.”
His thread also threatened ships escorting vessels en route to Israel.
So far, the Houthis have targeted ships with Israeli owners, the Galaxy Leader, which was brought to the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, and the Central Park, whose hijacking was thwarted by USS Mason. During the hijacking of the Central Park, a missile was fired at the Mason from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen.
From bases along the Yemeni coast, Houthi rebels are able to threaten shipping in the Red Sea as they traverse the Bab el-Mandeb Straits, a narrow maritime chokepoint between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. The majority of the world’s oil passes through the strait from the Indian Ocean towards the Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea.
Since Nov. 9, the Houthis have launched ballistic missiles and aerial drones at Israel. All were intercepted by Israeli or American air defense systems, or fell short of their targets.