Houthi leader threatens to attack Israel-linked ships in Indian Ocean


Thousands of supporters of the Yemeni Houthi rebel group held a rally in Sanaa on Friday to protest the U.S.-Britain joint retaliatory airstrikes on the group's camps. [Xinhua]

The leader of Yemen's Houthis, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, issued a new threat on Thursday night, vowing to prevent Israel-linked ships from transiting the Indian Ocean near the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa.

In an address aired by the group's al-Masirah TV, the Houthi leader claimed that his forces have already begun carrying out maritime operations in the Indian Ocean to target ships "connected to Israel."

He asserted that the group has struck 73 ships and barges thus far in the Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and Gulf of Aden using missiles and drones, noting that 34 Houthi fighters were killed in the confrontations with the U.S.-British coalition.

"We are moving to prevent the crossing of ships linked to the Israeli enemy, even those passing through the Indian Ocean and from South Africa toward the Cape of Good Hope," al-Houthi said, warning, "Our operations this time reached unprecedented wide scope, and three of our operations reached the Indian Ocean."

The Houthis have been attacking commercial ships since last November in what they said in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and have vowed to escalate and expand their strikes until Israel stops its offensive against the Palestinian enclave.

In response, the United States and Britain have conducted airstrikes and naval bombardments against Houthi targets in Yemen since mid-January to deter the group. The Houthi leader claimed that there were 32 such bombings this week alone, which he dismissed as "failures."

The new threat issued by the Houthi leader raised the risks of "miscalculation" that could potentially draw the Houthi forces into confrontations with the U.S., Britain, and other powers in one of the most vital and congested maritime trade corridors globally, said local experts.

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