Houthi official says aim of Red Sea attacks is to stop 'Gaza carnage'

AFP , Ahram Online , Friday 19 Jan 2024

A senior Houthi official on Friday said that the goal of the Yemeni group's attacks on Israeli-linked ships in and around the Red Sea is not to halt global shipping but to raise the "economic costs" and force Israel "to stop the carnage in Gaza."

Yemen Houthis
Member of the Yemen-based Houthi Ansar Allah Political Bureau, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti. Photo courtesy of Yemen Press Agency


In an interview published by Russian outlet Izvestia on Friday, Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi Political Bureau, said using the group's official name: "Ansar Allah does not pursue the goal of capturing or sinking this or that sea vessel." 

"Our goal is to raise the economic costs for the Jewish state in order to stop the carnage in Gaza," he added, insisting the waters around Yemen, which some shipping firms are avoiding due to hostilities, were safe so long as vessels were not linked to Israel.

"As for all other countries, including Russia and China, their shipping in the region is not threatened," he said.

"Moreover, we are ready to ensure the safe passage of their ships in the Red Sea, because free navigation plays a significant role for our country."

Attacks on vessels "in any way connected with Israel" would continue, he added.

The Houthi rebels have recently said US- and British-linked ships were also fair game after the two countries launched air strikes in Yemen in response to the repeated attacks on Israeli-linked vessels.

The Houthis claimed early on Friday another attack on a US ship after the United States launched fresh strikes on Houthi targets the day before.

The Houthis have launched numerous attacks in the vital shipping lanes around Yemen since the Israeli war on Gaza erupted on 7 October.

Bukhaiti defended his group's capture in November of the Galaxy Leader -- a merchant vessel linked to an Israeli businessman -- as "a precautionary step for everyone else to follow our requirements."

The ship's crew, who are still being held, "are fine, and we are giving them a warm welcome", he added.

Meanwhile, the US and Israel's Western allies continue to supply Israel with lethal munitions which Israel has used to target hospitals, UN-run schools and designated "safe areas" where 85 percent of Gazans displaced by Israel's war seek shelter from indiscriminate Israeli bombardment.

Israel's relentless air and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip has killed at least 24,620 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The Houthis say they are acting against "the oppression of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and within the response to the American-British aggression against our country."

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