Houthis Warn Ships to Avoid Israel

(LibertyInsider.org) – Yemen’s Houthi rebels have issued a stern warning to cargo ships operating within the Red Sea. The militant group is reportedly enforcing what amounts to a soft blockade on vessels heading toward Israeli ports, irrespective of nationality.

An automatic translation of a statement posted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, by Houthi official Mohamed Ali al-Houthi on December 9 states that the group sees Israeli ships under military escort as a threat to Yemen’s national security. According to this interpretation, they believe their “armed forces will have the right to confront this danger.”

A second post shared on December 12 adds context and guidelines to the already stark messaging. In it, al-Houthi warns ships not to turn off their pagers and to respond quickly to any attempt at communication coming from Yemen’s Navy. The senior official told vessels operating in the region not to approach “occupied ports in Palestine.” Ships shouldn’t attempt to falsify their identities by flying invalid flags in an effort to sneak through the siege, either.

According to Reuters, the rebel group has already attacked a number of ships sailing through the Red Sea in recent weeks. This shortlist includes an earlier missile launch aimed at the Norwegian tanker STRINDA, which a Houthi official said was transporting crude into Israel.

Norway’s Mowinckel Chemical Tankers dismissed these claims shortly after the attack. The company stated that the tanker was actually carrying biofuel feedstock toward Italy when the missile struck. However, it did confirm that an itinerary for January included at least one stopover in an Israeli port. It wasn’t immediately clear if it intended to change those plans.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels are outspoken supporters of Palestine and what the group sees as the oppressed people living within the Gaza Strip. They have also labeled American forces terrorists, accused them of engaging in psychological warfare, and blamed them for launching repeated intimidation campaigns in support of Israel.

The militant group’s decision to siege Israel’s ports and blockade water traffic upon approach further complicates an already high-risk conflict. It stands to have serious consequences for America’s forces operating within the Red Sea, but may also complicate attempts to ferry critical humanitarian aid, including food, water, and medicine, into the region.

Copyright 2023, LibertyInsider.org