Israel is ready to act against efforts by Houthi rebels in Yemen to disrupt shipping in the Red Sea if the international community fails to do so, Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said.said Saturday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with US President Joe Biden as well as European leaders about the Houthis targeting merchant ships with suspected ties to Israel, Hanegbi.told Israel’s Channel 12.
“Israel is giving the world time to organize to prevent this, but if there is no global agreement, because this is a global problem, we will act to lift this siege naval,” Hanegbi said.said.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels are a Shiite political and military organization that has been waging a civil war against a Saudi-backed coalition since 2014.
Their maritime activities have intensified since Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7.
American warships already protect shipping in the region. Last week, a US warship shot down several unmanned aerial vehicles coming from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen in the southern Red Sea, according to US military officials. One of the incidents occurred during a series of attacks on three commercial ships.
US military officials said they are considering strengthening protection for commercial shipping around a vital Red Sea shipping route, amid a recent series of missile attacks by Houthi militants operating from from Yemen.
The United States discussed ways to strengthen security in the region with members of the Combined Maritime Forces, a multinational naval task force charged with protecting commercial shipping in the Red Sea.
US officials have said publicly that discussions focused on the possibility of escorting ships operating in the Red Sea and through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait to the Gulf of Aden – the narrow channel that divides Yemen of the Horn of Africa.
Newly recruited Houthi fighters during a parade in Sanaa, Yemen, December 2, 2023.
Hanegbialso discussed developments on the ground in Gaza, saying the United States had given Israel no deadline to complete its military operations in the enclave.
“They understand that they are not able to tell the IDF how long it takes to achieve its objectives,” he said.
“The good thing is that they share the same goals… It’s correct to assume that we can’t measure this in weeks and I’m not sure it can be measured in months. »
CNN previously reported that US officials expected the Israeli operation targeting the southern end of the Gaza Strip to last several weeks before shifting, perhaps by January, to a hyper-localized strategy of lesser intensity specifically targeting specific Hamas militants and leaders, according to several senior administration officials.
The White House is deeply concerned about how Israeli operations will unfold over the coming weeks, a senior US administration official said.
The United States has strongly warned Israel in “tough” and “direct” conversations, the official said, that the Israel Defense Forces cannot replicate the type of devastating tactics it has used in the north and must more to limit civilian casualties.
HanegbiHe said he did not think Hamas leaders expected the scale of Israel’s response to the assault on southern Israel on October 7, in which some 1,200 people were killed.
“I don’t think Yahya Sinwar (Hamas leader in Gaza) realized that the IDF would reach any point in Gaza and kill more than 7,000 terrorists,” Hanegbi said.said.
“This is the minimum estimate, it could be higher since we do not know everything,” he added.
“We are moving very close to Hamas control and command centers in Jabalia and Shejaiya, the strongholds of persistent resistance in the northern Gaza Strip. And in the south, we operate fiercely.”
Asked whether Israel would have to choose between killing Sinwar and rescuing the hostages if they were in the same location, Hanegbisaid: “We could be faced with such a situation, it is a heartbreaking dilemma for any decision maker, but it would mean that (we) have reached it. »
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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