Yemen vows to continue Gaza solidarity in Red Sea despite U.S. military attack killing 10

On Dec. 31, 2023, the U.S. military attacked and sank three Yemeni boats in the Red Sea, killing at least 10 Yemenis. The boats were carrying out the Yemeni Armed Forces mission to prevent Israeli-linked ships from passing through the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb Strait at the south end of the Red Sea. This mission of Yemen, a poor nation recently ravaged by a brutal, U.S.-backed Saudi war, has been hailed by the global movement for Palestine.

Helicopters from two U.S. warships — the USS Eisenhower and USS Gravely — shot at the small boats following an SOS call from the Singapore-flagged vessel Maersk Hangzhou according to CENTCOM. The Yemenis returned fire. (Al-Jazeera) CENTCOM also claims to have shot down anti-ballistic missiles fired by Yemen at the Maersk Hangzhou on Dec. 30.

This is the first U.S. direct attack on Yemen, posing a grave danger of widening the war into a regional one with the direct involvement of the United States.

In a statement on the U.S. military attack, the Yemeni Armed Forces said:

While the Naval Forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces were carrying out their routine official duties in reinforcing security and stability and protecting maritime navigation, in addition fulfilling their humanitarian and ethical duty declared by Yemen in prohibiting “israeli” ships or those heading to the ports of occupied Palestine from passing through the Red Sea in solidarity and support of the Palestinian people, the American enemy forces attacked three boats belonging to the Yemeni Naval Forces, resulting in the martyrdom and loss of ten naval personnel.

As the Yemeni Armed Forces exalts these martyrs for the sake of Palestine in the midst of the support battle for Al-Aqsa Flood, [it] affirms that the American enemy bears the consequences and repercussions of this crime, and that its military movements in the Red Sea to protect “israeli” ships will not prevent Yemen from fulfilling its religious, ethical, and humanitarian duty in support and aid of the oppressed in Palestine and Gaza.

We also urge other nations not to engage in the dangerous American course, which will have negative repercussions that could affect everyone.

On  Dec. 19, 2023, Washington announced a new international coalition force to protect commerce passing through the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb. “However, out of the 20 countries the US says have agreed to support the coalition, only the United Kingdom has directly contributed warships, leaving Washington to effectively ‘act alone’ against the Houthis.” (Resul Serdar of Al Jazeera’s Resul) Serdar added, “There is very little naval presence here.”

Yemen’s solidarity mission has been effective in slashing trade with Israel.

As reported by Palestine Resistance Network, the Port of Eilat (occupied Um al-Rashrash) is completely empty of ships as a result of the Yemeni Armed Forces’ operations in the Red Sea. The Egyptian TV channel Al-Qahira Al-Akhbariya showed satellite images of the empty port, which has seen its revenue drop by more than 80 percent.

Screenshot of Egyptian TV footage of Eilat.

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