Houthis say four strikes hit Yemen after Israel intercepts missile

Houthi-affiliated Saba news accuses US and UK of striking Hodeidah province amid flurry of attacks in Red Sea

A protest at Sanaa University against US-led strikes on Houthi positions. Yemen's Houthi militants have previously claimed responsibility for attacks on Israel's Eilat. EPA
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Yemen was hit by four air strikes on Thursday, the Houthi-affiliated Saba news agency reported, citing a security source.

Saba quoted the security source as saying “American-British aggression” carried out four strikes in the area of Al Jabana, to the west of the city of Hodeidah, which is controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The US and UK have previously launched waves of air strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, in response to the group's campaign of attacks against shipping in the Red Sea, which it claims is in support of Hamas against Israel in the Gaza war.

The US military's Central Command said on Thursday it shot down six “one-way attack” drones launched from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen on Thursday morning.

The statement did not mention any strikes against land targets in Yemen.

The previous day, Centcom said it launched four strikes on Wednesday against “seven mobile Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles and one anti-ship ballistic missile launcher” that it said were prepared to launch towards the Red Sea.

In the same statement, Centcom said it had intercepted a “one-way attack” drone launched from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, also on Wednesday.

However, Saba reported the latest four strikes as taking place on Thursday. Neither Washington nor London has confirmed another set of strikes.

The reports came as Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi said in a televised statement on Thursday that the group would continue to expand its operations. He added that it had introduced “submarine weapons” into its arsenal.

Tehran is believed to have supplied the Houthis with advanced weaponry, as well as assisting their targeting of shipping through the use of two alleged spy boats in the Red Sea.

In a statement issued later on Thursday evening, the Houthis claimed they had fired several missiles and drones towards the southern Israeli port of Eilat.

The Israeli military had earlier said it intercepted a missile fired from the Red Sea towards Eilat.

“The target did not cross into Israeli territory and did not pose a threat to civilians,” it said on social media platform X.

The Houthis have claimed responsibility for repeated drone and ballistic missile attacks on Eilat, in the Gulf of Aqaba, since the war in Gaza began in October.

The group also claimed an attack on what they described as a “British ship”, the MV Islander, which it said had been set on fire after being struck by a missile.

The attack was first reported by the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) early on Thursday.

UKMTO said a vessel had sustained minor damage in an incident south-east of Aden, on Yemen's south coast.

“It has been reported that the vessel and crew are safe and proceeding to next port of call,” it said in a statement.

Centcom later named the vessel as the MV Islander, a Palau-flagged, UK-owned, cargo ship. It said two anti-ship missiles fired by the Houthis caused one minor injury and damaged the ship, which was continuing its voyage.

Israel's military said the missile targeting Eilat was intercepted by its Arrow air defence system.

The city's port has experienced an 85 per cent drop in activity since the Houthis began attacking ships in the Red Sea, Eilat authorities said in December.

In a separate event, the French navy said it shot down two drones over the Red Sea late on Wednesday night. It is the second pair of drones that the French navy has downed in the Red Sea this week, following a similar incident on Monday night.

The European Union launched its naval mission in the Red Sea, known as Aspides, on Monday. The EU says the mission is “purely defensive” and aimed at protecting shipping.

The US-led maritime coalition Operation Prosperity Guardian was established in mid-December, but has failed to stem the flow of attacks from the Houthis.

Updated: February 22, 2024, 6:21 PM