Yemen’s Houthi group on Thursday rejected a joint statement issued by 12 countries condemning Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea, and vowed continued targetting of “Israel-linked commercial ships” in the waters.
The Houthi Spokesman Dhaifallah al-Shami said in a statement that it is “a moral failure and a miserable attempt to cover up the crimes of Israel,” considering “America and Western countries are supporting Israel in committing more genocides against the Palestinian people.”
He stressed that the armed group would continue attacking what it called “Israel-linked commercial ships” until Israel ends the conflict and siege on the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip.
On Wednesday, the governments of Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Britain and the United States issued a joint statement, condemning Houthi attacks against commercial vessels transiting the Red Sea, and calling for the immediate end of the attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews.
“The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and the free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways,” the joint statement warned.
Since the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out on Oct. 7, 2023, the Houthi militia has escalated their attacks on Israel-linked ships, demanding that food and medicine aid be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip.
The Iran-backed Houthis control much of northern Yemen, including Sanaa and the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, where the group has held the Galaxy Leader, a Japanese-operated cargo ship linked to an Israeli company, and its crew, since they were seized on Nov. 19, 2023.
The United States along with other Western countries formed last week a multinational maritime coalition to secure the ships transiting the Red Sea from the Houthi attacks.
The U.S. naval forces responded to a distress call from a merchant boat in the Red Sea reporting being under a Houthi attack, sinking three Houthi boats, and killing its 10 fighters.
A significant number of companies are already rerouting their ships around South Africa to reduce their risks, which takes an additional 10 days to journey on average and negatively impacts international trade and costs of freight, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Arsenio Dominguez said earlier this week.