Israel pounds Gaza, Houthis vow more Red Sea attacks

Reuters :
Israel kept pounding the shattered Gaza Strip on Tuesday while Yemen’s pro-Palestinian Houthi movement vowed to defy a US-led naval mission and keep hitting Israeli targets in the Red Sea.

Israel’s campaign to eradicate Hamas militants behind an Oct 7 massacre has left the coastal enclave in ruins, brought widespread hunger and homelessness, and killed nearly 20,000 Gazans, according to a Palestinian tally.

Under foreign pressure to avoid killing innocents, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the war will not stop until the remaining 129 hostages are freed and Hamas is obliterated after its fighters’ slaying of 1,200 Israelis.

The conflict has spread beyond Gaza into the Red Sea where Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group has been attacking vessels with missiles and drones.

That has prompted the creation of a multinational naval operation to protect commerce in the area, but the Houthis said they would carry on anyway.

“Our position will not change in the direction of the Palestinian issue, whether a naval alliance is established or not,” Houthi official Mohammed Abdulsalam told Reuters, saying only Israeli ships or those going to Israel would be targeted.

“Our position in support of Palestine and the Gaza Strip will remain until the end of the siege, the entry of food and medicine, and our support for the oppressed Palestinian people will remain continuous.”

Announcing the naval operation, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in Bahrain joint patrols would be held in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden which encompass a major East-West global shipping route.

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“This is an international challenge that demands collective action,” he said.

British maritime security firm Ambrey said on Tuesday it received information of a potential boarding attempt 17 miles west of Yemen’s Aden port city, adding that the attack was unsuccessful and all crew were safe.

Some freight firms are rerouting around Africa.

Attacks by Yemen’s Houthi militants on ships in the Red Sea are disrupting maritime trade through the Suez Canal, with some vessels re-routing to a much longer East-West route via the southern tip of Africa.

In Gaza, Israel’s latest missiles hit the southern Rafah area, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees have amassed in recent weeks, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens of others, according to local health officials.

Residents said they had to dig in the rubble with bare hands. “This is a barbarian act,” said Mohammed Zurub.

Among the dead was Palestinian journalist Adel Zurub and several members of his family, medics said. That raised the number of Palestinian journalists killed to 97, according to the Hamas-run government media office.