Senior Houthi official Mohammed Al-Bukaiti issued a statement Tuesday saying the Houthis would not stop their military operations in the Red Sea unless Israel stops what he referred to as “genocide crimes” in Gaza and allows humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. The move comes despite the US announcing a new naval coalition to counter the attacks.The Houthi rebels in Yemen, backed by Iran, have recently launched over a dozen attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea in a show of support for Gaza and an attempt to stop Israel’s bombardment. A diverse range of drones and ballistic missiles have been deployed to attack vessels navigating the Bab al-Mandab Strait, also known as the Gate of Tears, which separates Eritrea and Djibouti on one side and Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula.While the Houthis had launched drones and missiles at Israel itself, the maritime attacks began in November when the Houthis seized the Galaxy Leader, an Israeli-linked cargo ship with multi-national connections. The move sparked grave security concerns. The ship is still being held in the port of Hodeidah in Yemen. Despite the Houthis’ assertion that they were attacking Israeli-linked vessels, a range of commercial ships have also been attacked in the strait.Since then, Houthis have targeted over a dozen ships in the region, which is one of the most important trade routes in the world, particularly for oil. Alternative routes would add an extra 3,500 nautical miles to the voyage. Shipping firms have already started to pull their vessels from the region. The increase in attacks caused oil giant BP to stop all shipments of oil and gas through the Red Sea.Last Friday, the German-owned Al Jasrah caught fire in the strait after being hit by projectiles launched from Yemen. On Monday, Houthis attacked the Panama-flagged MSC Clara and the Norwegian-owned Swan Atlantic. The Swan Atlantic suffered damage but none of the crew were hurt. The UK Maritime Trade Operations issued multiple separate reports Monday and Tuesday relating to incidents in the region, with one vessel being approached by a craft with several armed personnel onboard.The US announced Monday that it would launch Operation Prosperity Guardian, a multi-national naval coalition which aims to “jointly address security challenges in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, with the goal of ensuring freedom of navigation for all countries and bolstering regional security and prosperity.”

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