Yemen’s Houthis vow to keep targeting Israeli ships despite U.S.-led coalition

The Yemeni Houthi group vowed today to continue its attacks on Israeli ships passing through nearby waters, despite the announcement of a U.S.-led international coalition against it in the Red Sea.

Senior Houthi member Mohammad Abdulsalam said in a statement on X that the attacks aim to support Palestinians as they face Israel’s “aggression and siege” in Gaza.

He added that the Yemeni operations were not a challenge to another party, but stressed that any side seeking to expand the conflict “must bear the consequences of its actions.”

“The U.S.-formed coalition is to protect Israel and a militarisation of the (Red) Sea without any justification, and it won’t stop Yemen from continuing its legitimate operations in support of Gaza,” the senior Houthi member said.

“As the U.S. allowed itself to back Israel… the peoples of the region have full legitimacy to back the Palestinian people,” Abdulsalam said. “Yemen has taken it upon itself to stand by the Palestinian right.”

On Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the creation of a multinational mission under the name, Operation Prosperity Guardian to counter Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Austin described the move as “an important new multinational security initiative under the umbrella of the Combined Maritime Forces and the leadership of its Task Force 153, which focuses on security in the Red Sea.”

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The Red Sea is one of the world’s most frequently used sea routes for oil and fuel shipments.

​​​​​​​Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have significantly stepped up their involvement in the current conflict in the Gaza Strip by targeting vessels in the southern Red Sea and warning of attacking all Israel-bound ships.

As a consequence, the world’s top oil and shipping companies have started suspending operations through the Red Sea and are rerouting their vessels as Houthis step up attacks, shifting global trade from the vital corridor.

Concerns grow as major maritime transportation companies alter their ship routes in response to the increasing Houthi threats in the Red Sea. This has raised concerns that other companies may also suspend sailings through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait
( Mahmut Resul Karaca – Anadolu Agency )

There have been swift responses from major shipping companies including the Mediterranean Shipping Company, Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, CMA CGM, as well as oil giant BP, who have paused their shipments through the Red Sea, raising global concerns over the volatility in global supply chains between the East and West, potentially extending shipping times and increasing freight costs, which could in turn lead to inflation.

Located between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, the Bab al-Mandeb Strait connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

With the construction of the Suez Canal in the north of Egypt, the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which forms part of the connection between the Mediterranean and East Asia, gained strategic and economic importance.

Data by the World Trade Organization shows the strait shortens sea voyages by an average of 14 days compared to other alternative routes.

The cancellation of crossings through the strait means that tankers and cargo ships from Asia or the Persian Gulf region are prevented from reaching the Suez Canal, which carries 12% of global trade, therefore redirecting their route to the southern tip of Africa via the Cape of Good Hope.

According to the International Energy Agency, about 10% of the oil transported daily by sea passes through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

Houthi threats: A timeline

Nov. 19: Houthis seize cargo ship owned by the UK and operated by Japan in south of Red Sea.

Dec. 3: Houthis say two Israeli ships, Unity Explorer and Number Nine, targeted.

Dec. 9: Houthis warn all international shipping companies not to do business with Israeli ports, saying they would target all ships going to Israel.

Dec. 12: Houthis military spokesperson Yahya Seree says Norwegian ship carrying oil and heading to Israel hit by naval missile.

Dec. 15: Houthis target two Liberian-flagged container ships heading to Israel.

Dec. 15: Denmark-based Maersk shipping company halts container vessels passing through Red Sea.

Dec. 16: U.S. Central Command says it shot down more than a dozen drones in Red Sea launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

Dec. 16: Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), Hapag-Lloyd, and CMA CGM suspend voyages through Red Sea.

Dec. 18: BP halts all shipments of oil and gas through Red Sea.

Dec. 19: US announces 10-nation coalition to counter Houthi attacks in Red Sea.


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