Suspected Houthi attacks target a ship in the Gulf of Aden and the Israeli port city of Eilat


DUBAI (AP): Suspected attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels early Wednesday targeted a ship in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Israeli port city of Eilat, authorities said.

The attacks follow the departure of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower after an eight-month deployment in which the aircraft carrier led the American response to the Houthi assaults. Those attacks have reduced shipping drastically through the route crucial to Asian, Middle East and European markets in a campaign the Houthis say will continue as long as the Israel-Hamas war rages in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the Houthis faced allegations they seized commercial aircraft that brought back pilgrims from the Hajj amid a widening economic dispute between the rebels and the country’s exiled government.

The ship attack happened off the coast of Aden, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said.

The captain “of a merchant vessel reported a missile impacted the water in close proximity to the vessel,” the UKMTO said. “The crew are reported safe and the vessel is proceeding to its next port of call.”

The UKMTO did not say if the ship had been damaged.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said early Wednesday that a drone “fell off the coast of Eilat.” The military activated air raid sirens in the area.

The drone “was monitored by (Israeli) soldiers throughout the incident and it did not cross into Israeli territory,” the Israeli military said. “During the incident, an interceptor was launched toward the” drone.

The Houthis have targeted Eilat before with drones and missiles.

The Houthis did not immediately claim either attack. However, it can take the rebels hours or even days before they acknowledge their assaults.

The rebels have targeted more than 60 specific vessels by firing off missiles and drones in their campaign that has killed a total of four sailors. They seized one vessel and sunk two since November. A US-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes on May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

The Houthis have maintained that their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States or Britain. However, many of the ships attacked have little or no connection to the Israel-Hamas war — including those bound for Iran.

Late Tuesday, Houthi military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree claimed an attack Monday on the Liberian-flagged, Greek-managed container ship MSC Sarah V. Saree claimed without offering additional evidence that the Houthis used a new ballistic missile in the assault, which targeted a ship farther away than nearly all of the previous assaults they’ve launched in the Gulf of Aden.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the minister in charge of Hajj for Yemen’s exiled government alleged the Houthis seized aircraft from the country’s flag carrier, Yemenia, that had brought back pilgrims from the Hajj.

“The Houthis detained four planes at Sanaa International Airport and prevented their return to Jeddah airport to transport our country’s pilgrims who want to return to Sanaa,” minister Mohammed Shabiba wrote on the social platform X, asking pilgrims still in Makkah to remain there. “I ask our honorable pilgrims to settle in their homes until the return of the planes hijacked by the terrorist Houthi militia.”

The Houthis did not immediately acknowledge the seizure. However, at least two Airbus A320s associated with Yemenia appeared to be stuck on the ground in Sanaa without explanation, according to flight-tracking data.

The Houthis and Yemen’s exiled government have been increasingly at odds in recent months over economic issues, even after a long push by a Saudi-led coalition backing the government to end the country’s war.

The Houthis have faced issues with having enough currency to support the economy in areas they hold — something signaled by their move to introduce a new coin into the Yemeni currency, the riyal. Yemen’s exiled government in Aden and other nations criticized the move, saying the Houthis are turning to counterfeiting.

Aden authorities have demanded all banks move their headquarters there as a means to stop the worst slide ever in the riyal’s value and re-exert their control over the economy. Aden also is pushing for other businesses to leave Sanaa.

Meanwhile, the Houthis have taken captive local Yemeni employees of the United Nations, aid groups and the former US Embassy in Sanaa as part of a major crackdown. Following a pattern of their Iranian backers, the Houthis have aired repeated videos of the captives that appear to be taken under duress, alleging they are spies based in some cases on emails praising their work helping Yemenis.__The Frontier Post