Israel-Hamas war: Major Houthi attack reported in Red Sea


Wednesday, 10 January 2024 (16:42 IST)
The US military said it countered a "complex attack" by Iran-backed Houthis on commercial ships in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen on Tuesday night. 
The US Navy and the UK's Royal Navy shot down more than 20 missiles and drones launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, US Central Command said on social media.
The UK called it the "largest attack" yet since Yemen-based Houthis began targeting ships along the key route in response to Israel's war on Hamas in Gaza. 
There were no injuries or damage reported.
The attack happened off the Yemeni port cities of Hodeida and Mokha, according to the private intelligence firm Ambrey.
In Hodeida, Ambrey said ships described seeing missiles and drones. US-allied warships in the area urged "vessels to proceed at maximum speed."
Off the coast of Mokha, ships saw missiles fired, a drone in the air and small vessels trailing them, Ambrey said early Wednesday.
The Iran-backed rebels have attacked commercial ships 26 times since the war began and have vowed to continue attacks until Israel halts the conflict in Gaza.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has scheduled a vote Wednesday on a US-proposed resolution demanding an immediate halt to the attacks.
The draft resolution says the attacks impede global commerce "and undermine navigational rights and freedoms as well as regional peace and security."
UK defense secretary says Houthi Red Sea attack 'largest' to date
UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said on Wednesday that British and US naval forces "repelled the largest attack by the Iranian-backed Houthis in the Red Sea to date."
Shapps added that multiple attack drones had been destroyed by HMS Diamond, a Type 45 air defense destroyer.
"Deploying Sea Viper missiles and guns, Diamond destroyed multiple attack drones heading for her and commercial shipping in the area, with no injuries or damage sustained to Diamond or her crew," Shapp said on social media. 
The British defense secretary warned that should the attacks continue, "the Houthis will bear the consequences."
Israel says it killed Hezbollah air commander, group denies it
Israel said on Tuesday it had killed the commander of Hezbollah's southern drone unit, but the Lebanese militant group dismissed the claim.
Israel Defense Forces Arabic spokesman Avichay Adraee said they killed Ali Hussein Barji in an air strike.
"He led dozens of operations which used explosive drones and reconnaissance drones against Israel and the IDF," Adraee said.
The Hezbollah press office said the "commander was never subjected to any assassination attempt."
Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shiite political party and militant group, is considered a terrorist organization by the US, Germany and several Sunni Arab countries, while the EU lists its armed wing as a terrorist group.
Blinken meets with Palestinian leader in occupied West Bank
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met  Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday for talks expected to center on post-war scenarios for Gaza. 
On Tuesday evening, Blinken told reporters he would discuss steps the PA can take to reform itself and improve governance with Abbas.
The US is looking to rally support around postwar plans that would include steps toward establishing a Palestinian state that Washington hopes the PA could help govern. 
During Blinken's fourth visit to the Middle East since the conflict began, he also met with several Arab countries and said he secured commitments to assistance with rebuilding post-war Gaza. 
Blinken has also expressed optimism that mending Israel's ties with Arab countries after the war is still possible, but only if there is "a pathway to a Palestinian state."
The visit came a day after Blinken held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet. Netanyahu's government remains adamantly opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. 
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas following the militant group's unprecedented terror attack on October 7. Hamas, which currently rules Gaza, is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, and several other countries.

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