Amid rising tensions in the Middle East, Israel has expressed readiness to counter the actions of the Houthi rebels in Yemen, particularly their efforts to disrupt shipping in the Red Sea.
Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi emphasized this stance in a statement on Saturday, highlighting the potential for Israeli intervention if international measures fall short.
Netanyahu discusses response to Houthi threats with world leaders
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been actively engaging with global leaders, including US President Joe Biden and several European heads of state, concerning the Houthis’ targeting of vessels with purported Israeli connections.
Hanegbi, in his communication with Israel’s Channel 12, asserted, “Israel is giving the world some time to organize in order to prevent this, but if there isn’t to be a global arrangement, because it is a global issue, we will act in order to remove this naval siege.”
The Houthis, backed by Iran, are a Shia political and military group engaged in a civil war against a coalition led by Saudi Arabia since 2014.
US Navy counters rising Houthi maritime threats in Red Sea
Their increased maritime activities, notably post-Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, have escalated concerns, with the group declaring any ship en route to Israel as a “legitimate target.”
In response to these growing threats, US warships have been safeguarding shipping lanes in the region. A recent incident involved a US warship neutralizing unmanned aerial vehicles emanating from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen’s southern Red Sea.
This action was part of a broader defensive strategy following attacks on three commercial vessels.
US considers enhanced ship protection in Red Sea due to Houthi threats
Considering the uptick in missile strikes by Houthi militants, US military officials are contemplating enhancing protections for commercial ships along a crucial Red Sea shipping corridor.
This development comes in the wake of a French frigate in the Red Sea intercepting two drones, fired from the Yemeni coast, targeting the vessel.
The Houthis’ spokesperson, Yahya Saree, cited the “horrific massacres” in Gaza as the impetus for these actions, pledging to continue until food and medicine access for the Gaza Strip is secured.
US and allied naval forces plan enhanced security in Red Sea region
US officials are discussing with the Combined Maritime Forces, a multinational naval task force, to reinforce security in the area.
Plans include possibly escorting ships through the Red Sea and the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb strait.
Further highlighting the situation, Hanegbi commented on developments in Gaza, stating, “They understand that they are not in a position to tell the IDF how long it needs in order to achieve the goals,” and added, “The good thing is that they share the same goals… It is correct to assume that we cannot measure this in weeks, and I’m not certain that it could be measured in months.”
US foresees extended Israeli military actions in Gaza, urges caution
CNN reports that US officials anticipate Israel’s operations in Gaza’s southern end to continue for several weeks before transitioning to a more localized strategy targeting specific Hamas militants and leaders.
Amid these operations, the White House is monitoring the unfolding events with apprehension.
The US has firmly warned Israel to avoid replicating the north’s devastating tactics and to minimize civilian casualties.
Hanegbi discusses IDF’s tactical response, challenges in Gaza conflict
Hanegbi acknowledged the unexpected magnitude of Israel’s response to Hamas’ assault on southern Israel on October 7, noting, “I do not think that Yahya Sinwar (Hamas’ leader in Gaza) realized that the IDF will actually reach any point they want inside Gaza and kill over 7,000 terrorists.”
He also mentioned Israel’s belief that Hamas had about 30,000 fighters in Gaza before the war and the IDF’s close approach to Hamas’ command centers in the northern Gaza Strip.
Hanegbi reflected on the moral complexities Israel faces, particularly in scenarios involving the potential capture of Hamas leader Sinwar and hostages, underscoring the heart-wrenching dilemmas decision-makers confront in such situations.