A French frigate patrolling the Red Sea shot down two drones coming from northern Yemen during the night, territory under Houthi rebel control which threaten to disrupt traffic on this strategic maritime route as part of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. The General Staff of the Armed Forces indicated in a press release that the multi-mission frigate Languedoc, which operates in the Red Sea, had shot down these drones which were heading towards it.
“The interception and destruction of these two distinct threats” took place during the night from Saturday to Sunday, 110 km from the Yemeni coast, near Hodeida, a port in northern Yemen under the control of the Houthi rebels.
The latter threatened on Saturday to attack any ship in the Red Sea heading towards Israel if the population of the Gaza Strip did not receive emergency aid.
In a statement posted on social media before the French announcement, the Houthis said they would “prevent the page of ships heading towards the Zionist entity” if residents of the Palestinian territory, bombarded by Israel for two months, do not did not receive more humanitarian aidsuch as food and medicine.
Hamas, a member of what it calls the “axis of resistance” against Israel, alongside Lebanese Hezbollah in particular and the Houthis, welcomed the “brave and bold” decision of the Yemeni rebels.
“We call on Arab and Muslim countries to use all their capabilities, on the basis of their historical responsibilities and in a chivalrous spirit, to lift the siege of Gaza,” added Hamas in this press release sent to AFP.
The Houthis’ warning
This latest warning from the Houthis comes against a backdrop of increased tensions in the Red Sea since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. In retaliation, Israel bombs the Gaza Strip which it has been besieging since October 9. Humanitarian aid is trickling in and the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterresevokes a “nightmarish humanitarian context”.
However, regardless of the flag under which the ships sail or the nationality of their owners or operators, those bound for Israel “will become a legitimate target for our armed forces”, believe the Houthis.
Not all “ships linked to Israel or that will carry goods” to Israel are welcome in the Red Sea, a strategic area between northeast Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, they added.
Israel denounces “a naval siege”
On the Israeli side, the head of the National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegbi, denounced a “naval siege”. “If the world does not deal with this, because it is an international problem, we will act to put an end to this naval siege,” he warned.
Last week, the Houthis attacked two ships off the Yemeni coast, including a Bahamian-flagged vessel, claiming they belonged to Israelis.
VIDEO. Houthis release images of storming of Israeli ship “Galaxy Leader”
An American destroyer had shot down last week three drones provided istance to commercial ships in the Red Sea targeted by attacks from Yemen, according to Washington, which had denounced “a direct threat” to maritime security.
On November 19, Houthis seize merchant ship Galaxy Leader which belongs to a British company itself owned by an Israeli businessman. The Houthis also launched a series of drones and missiles towards Israel. Many devices have been intercepted by Israel or American warships.