A French frigate patrolling the Red Sea shot down two drones on the night of Saturday December 9 to Sunday December 10, 2023, coming from northern Yemen, territory under the control of the Houthi rebels who threaten to disrupt traffic on this strategic maritime route as part of the conflict. between Israel and Hamas.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces indicated in a press release that the multi-mission frigate Languedoc, which operates in the Red Sea, had shot down these drones which were heading towards it.
“The interception and destruction of these two identified threats” took place during the night from Saturday to Sunday, 110 kilometers from the Yemeni coast, near Hodeida, a port in northern Yemen under the control of the Houthi rebels.
The latter threatened on Saturday to attack any ship in the Red Sea heading towards Israel if the population of the Gaza Strip did not receive emergency aid.
In a statement posted on social media before the French announcement, the Houthis said they “would prevent the passage of ships heading towards the Zionist entity” if the inhabitants of the Palestinian territory, bombed by Israel for two months, did not receive more humanitarian aid, such as food and medicine.
Hamas, a member of what it calls “the axis of resistance” against Israel, alongside Lebanese Hezbollah and the Houthis, welcomed the decision “courageous and daring” Yemeni rebels.
“We call on Arab and Muslim countries to use all their capabilities, based on their historical responsibilities and in the spirit of chivalry, to lift the siege of Gaza”» added Hamas in this press release sent to AFP.
This latest warning from the Houthis comes in a context of increased tensions in the Red Sea since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, triggered on October 7 after a deadly attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement on Israeli soil.
In retaliation, Israel bombs the Gaza Strip, which it has besieged since October 9. Humanitarian aid is trickling in and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks of a “nightmare humanitarian context”.
However, regardless of the flag under which the ships sail or the nationality of their owners or operators, those bound for Israel “will become a legitimate target for our armed forces”believe the Houthis.
All the “ships linked to Israel or which will transport goods” in Israel are not welcome in the Red Sea, a strategic area between northeast Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, they added.
On the Israeli side, the head of the National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegbi, denounced a “naval headquarters”. “If the world does not address this problem, because it is an international problem, we will act to end this naval siege”he warned.
Last week, the Houthis attacked two ships off the Yemeni coast, including a Bahamian-flagged vessel, claiming they belonged to Israelis.
An American destroyer shot down three drones last week while providing assistance to commercial ships in the Red Sea targeted by attacks from Yemen, according to Washington, which denounced “a direct threat” for maritime safety.
On November 19, the Houthis seized the merchant ship Galaxy Leader, which is owned by a British company, itself owned by an Israeli businessman.
The Houthis also launched a series of drones and missiles towards Israel. Many devices were intercepted by Israeli or American warships.