DUBAI: Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Sunday said they targeted a “British ship” and two “Israeli” vessels, after a British maritime security firm reported three separate attacks off Yemen’s coast in less than 24 hours.

Houthi rebels have launched dozens of missile and drone attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since November, leading to retaliatory strikes by the United States against Houthi targets in Yemen. The rebels say their actions are in solidarity with Palestinians during Israel’s aggression against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The latest attacks come after a lull of several days in such incidents which have disrupted traffic along the vital Red Sea global trade route.

In a statement posted on social media on Sunday, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said the rebels had carried out five military operations during the previous 72 hours.

US says its forces destroy a mobile surface-to-air missile system and shoot down UAV over Red Sea

They include a missile strike against a “British ship (Hope Island) in the Red Sea”.

Missiles also targeted what Saree described as two Israeli ships, MSC Grace F and MSC Gina.

Vessel tracking websites listed the Hope Island as travelling under a Marshall Islands flag and said it was in the Red Sea as of Friday. Two tracking sites also listed a vessel named MSC Grace F which they said sails under the Panamanian flag.

Marinetraffic.com listed MSC Gina as Panamanian-flagged and said it was last reported in the Gulf.The Houthi announcement came after British maritime security firm Ambrey said two ships were targeted off Yemen’s coast on Sunday, bringing to three the number of incidents it reported in less than 24 hours.

Ambrey said “a vessel was targeted... southwest of Mukalla,” a Yemeni port city on the Gulf of Aden, without clarifying if it was hit or identifying its nationality. Earlier, it said a projectile fell near another ship southwest of Aden.

The Royal Navy’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Opera­tions (UKMTO) said that “a missile impacted the water in close proximity” to the ship. “No damage to the vessel reported and crew reported safe,” it said.

Sunday’s attacks came hours after two missiles targeted a ship southwest of the Yemeni Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, according to both UKMTO and Ambrey.

One missile was intercepted by US-led coalition forces and the second missed the ship, according to UKMTO.

The weekend attacks came as Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met senior Hou­thi official Mohamed Abdelsalam in Oman on Sunday.

Amir-Abdollahian praised the “brave support of the Yemeni nation for the oppressed Palestinian nation,” according to Iran’s foreign ministry.

The United States, which leads a multinational flotilla intended to protect Red Sea shipping, has since mid-January launched repeated attacks on Houthi targets in Yemen. British warplanes have also taken part in several of the strikes.

US Central Command said on Sunday that its forces on Saturday destroyed a mobile surface-to-air missile system in Houthi-controlled territory, shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle over the Red Sea and “successfully engaged and destroyed one inbound anti-ship missile”.

In a televised speech on Thursday, Houthi chief Abdul Malik al-Huthi said 37 people had been killed in more than 400 strikes by US and British forces on Yemen since January.

“During these operations and attacks, 37 martyrs died and 30 others were wounded,” he said, without specifying if the casualties were civilians or combatants.

The rebel leader vowed to continue strikes on Red Sea shipping, saying his fighters had launched 34 attacks over the past month.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2024

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