The US has sent messages to both Israel and Yemen’s Shia rebels, the Houthis. In particular, the representative of the National Security Council of the White House, John Kirby, sent a clear message to the Israeli Armed Forces (IDF) that it will not support the continuation of the operation in southern Gaza without a plan to protect civilians.
“The US does not support the activities of the Israeli military unless there is a clearly articulated plan for how to protect the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people who have now been added to the population – because they have been asked to leave Israel. They have an obligation to factor that into their planning,” John Kirby said according to Haaretz.
“We are considering placing the Houthis in the terrorist organizations”
Also, according to Kirby, the Biden administration is considering listing the Houthis as a terrorist organization citing “recent Houthi targeting of civilians” as well as “ship piracy in international waters.”
Joe Biden’s administration had formally removed the Houthis from the list of “foreign terrorist organizations” and “specially designated global terrorists” in 2021, reversing a last-minute move by former US President Donald Trump.
The UN and aid groups have criticized the designation of the Houthis as a “terrorist organization”, arguing that the restrictions they create complicate aid delivery to the war-torn country.
Speaking to reporters, Kirby also said that US officials did not want to comment on a possible prisoner release deal between Hamas and Israel: “We will not say and do not want to say anything at these sensitive times that could put a deal in greater danger.”
They have warned Israel
Shiite rebels, the Houthis, who control the Yemeni capital Sanaa and areas in the north of the country, are backed by Iran and since the start of Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip have fired missiles and drones at Israel in recent weeks, while some of them were shot down by the US Navy in the area.
As Reuters has reported, last week the Houthi leader said his forces would carry out further attacks against Israel and could target Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, between Eritrea and Djibouti, from on the African side, and Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula side.
On Sunday, they seized a cargo ship in the Red Sea, taking 25 crew members hostage, in an apparent attempt to escalate against Israel amid the Gaza war.
The attack marks a new level of escalation as the Houthis have assumed a prominent role among the various Iranian-backed groups, launching provocative attacks against Israel in response to the war against the Palestinians.
The group has claimed responsibility for previous attacks on shipping, but this is the first time Yemeni fighters have seized control of a merchant ship following a helicopter raid.
Israel’s military described the hijacking as a “serious incident” but denied the Galaxy Leader was an Israeli ship and said there were no Israelis on board.