Threat comes as Israel, Western allies bolster presence in Red Sea as rebels target shipping.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels have warned Israel, the United States and other Western allies that any hostile move from foreign forces against the country will have dire consequences and come at great cost.
The Iran-aligned Houthis, who control much of Yemen but are not recognised internationally, have escalated maritime tensions by launching near-daily attacks on vital waterways to pressure Israel in its war against Palestinian armed group Hamas.
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Ali al-Qahoum, a member of the Houthi’s Ansarullah politburo, said Yemen was ready with all defensive options to respond to any military moves by the US, Israel or other Western powers.
“The Houthis will not abandon the Palestinian cause, regardless of any US, Israeli or Western threats,” al-Qahoum said in an interview with Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen TV late on Friday, adding that operations against Israel will continue.
The threat comes as two of the world’s largest shipping companies announced they will pause all journeys through the Red Sea after a series of attacks on vessels by the Houthis.
Danish shipping company Maersk said on Friday it was suspending its vessels’ passage through the key Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and the German container shipping line Hapag-Lloyd said it would pause journeys in the Red Sea until Monday.
Staunch supporters of Palestinians, the Houthis claimed responsibility for the attacks and said, “We will continue to prevent all ships heading to Israeli ports until the food and medicine our people need in the Gaza Strip is brought in.
“We assure all ships heading to all ports of the world apart from Israeli ports that they will suffer no harm and they must keep their identification device on.”
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told journalists in Tel Aviv that “while the Houthis are pulling the trigger, so to speak, they’re being handed the gun by Iran”.
The Houthis were threatening freedom of movement in the Red Sea, vital for massive oil and goods shipments, he said.
Some 40 percent of international trade passes through the area, which leads to the Red Sea, Israel’s southern port facilities and the Suez Canal.
Insurance costs for ships transiting the area have jumped in recent days, amounting to increases in the tens of thousands of dollars for larger ships like oil tankers, reports say.
While warships passing through the Red Sea are well equipped and can retaliate, commercial vessels do not have the same protections.
The rebels have also tried to hijack and capture several ships in the Red Sea, succeeding at least once in November.
Warships from the US, United Kingdom and France continue to patrol the area and have shot several missiles launched by the Houthis out of the sky.
On Saturday, Grant Shapps, UK Defence Secretary, said in a post on X that the United Kingdom’s HMS Diamond had shot down a suspected attack drone targeting merchant shipping in the Red Sea, with a Sea Viper missile.
Meanwhile in his press conference in Israel, Sullivan said that the United States “is working with the international community, with partners from the region and from all over the world” to deal with the ongoing threats to ships in the Red Sea.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES