Sudan conflict puts Darfur’s history of ethnic bloodletting on rewind

Special Sudan conflict puts Darfur’s history of ethnic bloodletting on rewind
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Chadian cart owners transport belongings of Sudanese people who fled the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, while crossing the border between Sudan and Chad in Adre, Chad, on August 4, 2023. (REUTERS/File Photo)
Special Sudan conflict puts Darfur’s history of ethnic bloodletting on rewind
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Chadian cart owners transport belongings of Sudanese people who fled the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, while crossing the border between Sudan and Chad in Adre, Chad, on August 4, 2023. (REUTERS/File Photo)
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Updated 16 September 2023
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Sudan conflict puts Darfur’s history of ethnic bloodletting on rewind

Sudan conflict puts Darfur’s history of ethnic bloodletting on rewind
  • The UN has received credible reports of at least 13 mass graves in El-Geneina and its surrounding areas
  • UN officials sound the alarm over“identity-based attacks,” with civilians “targeted on the basis of race”

NAIROBI, Kenya: Darfur, a part of Sudan that is no stranger to ethnic violence and genocide, is once again making similar headlines, following the discovery of mass graves amid a prolonged power struggle between two Sudanese generals that has reduced entire cities to rubble and triggered a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.

The UN Joint Human Rights office said it has received credible reports of at least 13 mass graves in the city of El-Geneina and the surrounding areas, the head of the UN’s Sudan mission said on Wednesday.

The graves are believed to contain the bodies of victims of attacks by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and allied Arab militias on civilians, the majority of whom were from the Masalit community, Volker Perthes told the UN Security Council.




People place bodies into a mass grave in Nyala, Sudan, on August 23, 2023, in the aftermath of a strike near a bridge that killed dozens of people. (Handout via REUTERS)

This latest bout of bloodletting is partly the result of political rivalries compounded by simmering racial tensions. Darfur first gained international notoriety in the early 2000s when ethnic cleansing, economic disparities, and competition for resources sparked a conflict between the Arab-dominated government and non-Arab rebel groups.

Between 2003 and 2005, tens of thousands of civilians in Darfur were systematically killed, marking the first genocide of the 21st century. There are fears that the current conflict, between the RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces, which is entering its sixth month, could reach similar levels of brutality.




A man stands by as a fire rages in a livestock market area in al-Fasher, the capital of Sudan's North Darfur state, on September 1, 2023, in the aftermath of bombardment by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. (AFP)

“These tensions have been exacerbated by factors such as desertification, political instability since Sudan’s independence, economic stagnation, the proliferation of arms from internal and external conflicts, proxy-led battles, and international polarization,” Ahmed Khair, a researcher at the Sudan Research and Consultancy Group, told Arab News.

While the root causes of conflict remain unchanged, the allegiances of the warring parties have steadily shifted.

“New political parties, actors, coalitions, and even a transformation of existing political entities, have emerged, adapting to the ever-shifting political dynamics,” said Khair.

Prominent examples of these groups are the Justice and Equality Movement, the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi, and the Sudan Liberation Movement Abdel Wahid.




Fighters of the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi ride in vehicles moving in a convoy accompanying the governor of Sudan's Darfur State during a stopover in the eastern city of Gedaref while on the way to Port Sudan on August 30, 2023. (AFP)

According to Khair, they are all motivated by the prospect of “empowering their regions and the citizens living there.”

The current crisis in Sudan began on April 15 when a long-running power struggle between the SAF and the RSF escalated into violence, much of which has been focused around Darfur and the capital, Khartoum. About 4 million people have been internally displaced by the conflict and a further 1.1 million have fled to neighboring countries, primarily Chad and Egypt.

In Darfur, the conflict has taken on an appearance that is both different from previous hostilities yet at the same time all-too familiar, with the RSF and allied militias targeting specific ethno-linguistic groups.

The western region of Darfur, an area about the size of France and home to a quarter of Sudan’s population, had already seen some of the worst unrest during the conflict before the violence further intensified last month. More than 50,000 people fled the city in the space of 10 days in August, according to the UN.




A picture taken on June 16, 2023, shows bodies strewn outdoors near houses in the West Darfur state capital El Geneina, prompting warnings that the conflict between two generals in war-torn Sudan had “taken on an ethnic dimension, resulting in targeted attacks based on people’s identities and subsequent displacement of communities”. (AFP)

Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the UN’s special adviser on the prevention of genocide, sounded the alarm over the increased incidence of “identity-based attacks,” warning that civilians “are being targeted on the basis of race” in Darfur.

Perthes, who this week announced he will step down from his role as head of the UN mission to Sudan, told the UN Security Council on Wednesday, during his final briefing, that the conflict in the country is likely to escalate.

Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, the head of the SAF and Sudan’s de facto ruler, has repeatedly accused the UN envoy of bias toward the RSF, and Perthes has been persona non grata since he denounced possible “crimes against humanity” in Darfur.




Sudanese Armed Forces chief General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan greets supporters as tours a neighborhood in Port Sudan (Sudanese Army photo/AFP)

The Sudanese government repeatedly called for him to be dismissed from his role but UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had reiterated his support for the envoy. On Wednesday, however, Guterres accepted the resignation of Perthes, saying that the envoy “has very strong reasons” for stepping down.

“I am grateful to the secretary-general for that opportunity and for his confidence in me but I have asked him to relieve me of this duty,” Perthes said, as he warned that the conflict “could be morphing into a full-scale civil war.”

He added that the warring sides “cannot operate with impunity and there will be accountability for the crimes committed.”

In early September, the US imposed sanctions on Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, the brother of RSF chief Mohammed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, over “the massacre of civilians, ethnic killings, and use of sexual violence.”




An image grab taken from a handout video posted on the Sudanese paramilitary Rapid Support Forces page on Twitter, rebranded as X, on July 28, 2023 shows its commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo addressing RSF fighters at an undisclosed location. (Rapid Support Forces photo/AFP)

In South Darfur, a region historically associated with RSF influence, the feuding factions are locked in a fierce struggle for control of the country. While the RSF and its allied Arab militias hold sway over much of South Darfur’s capital, Nyala, the SAF is relying on its artillery and air force to assert its presence in an area that had long been neglected.

Civilians, and the aid workers trying to assist them, have found themselves caught in the crossfire. Sixty were killed and 285 wounded during 12 days of intense fighting in Nyala alone on August 22, according to a recent report by local monitoring group the Darfur Cinema Center. And an air raid on Wednesday killed at least 40 civilians, a medical source told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

On Aug. 21, the SAF reportedly shelled a market in Nyala, killing 24 civilians. The SAF denies being responsible for that incident but residents said they suspect the presence of RSF fighters nearby was the reason for the fatal bombardment.

A similarly harrowing incident occurred two days later when about 30 civilians, most of them women and children, were caught in the crossfire between the RSF and SAF.




Bodies of civilians were buried in mass graves by local residents in Nyala, Darfur. (Supplied)

According to locals and observers who spoke to Arab News, the actual death tolls resulting from incidents such as these are likely much higher than the reported figures.

The conflict has disrupted communications infrastructure in the region, which is making it difficult for medics to accurately record deaths. In many cases, grieving families have no choice but to bury their dead without officially registering their deaths.

Services at hospitals and clinics in conflict zone have also been affected. Rescue operations have been hampered by the closure of medical facilities, and healthcare workers are at constant risk of being targeted by the warring factions, in breach of international humanitarian law.

The fighting has also disrupted food supplies and “food scarcity is a pressing concern across Darfur, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis,” William Carter, the country director for Sudan at the Norwegian Refugee Council, told Arab News.

“It’s all very difficult and complex; the safety situation but also logistics, getting across borders from eastern Chad, through the rainy season across huge distances,” he added. “This is one of the most critical areas of the country to make sure a response gets to.”

 

 

The scarcity of food and safe drinking water often forces civilians to take extreme risks, placing themselves in the line of fire as they search for supplies.

“The situation is urgent,” Mohammed Adam Hassan, executive director of the Darfur Network for Human Rights, told Arab News. “We, as human rights organizations, continue to document civilian casualties, property destruction and widespread suffering.”

He called on the international community to intervene in the conflict and speed up the humanitarian response.

“The sanctions are a step in the right direction but more must be done to address the complex crisis on the ground,” he added. “Such an intervention should prioritize the protection of civilians and the creation of safe zones and humanitarian corridors to facilitate aid delivery.”

 

 

Khair, the researcher with the Sudan Research and Consultancy Group, agreed about the urgent need for urgent external intervention, but added that efforts need to align with the political realities on the ground.

“While coordination in areas controlled by the Sudanese government continues through established mechanisms, challenges arise in areas controlled by armed movements like the RSF,” he said.

Khair identified Minni Arko Minnawi, Darfur’s governor, as a potentially pivotal figure in this process, in light of the fact he has tacit approval from key parties.

“To bridge this gap, initiating dialogue and creating emergency coordination structures must happen,” Khair added.




Minni Minnawi (C), governor of Sudan's Darfur State, is greeted by locals during a stopover in the eastern city of Gedaref while on his way to Port Sudan on August 30, 2023. (AFP)

Efforts to address the crisis through regional diplomatic channels, such as the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, have faced serious obstacles. Al-Burhan has threatened to withdraw Sudan from organizations that continue to communicate with representatives of the RSF.

Washington’s recent announcement of sanctions on RSF leader Dagalo might suggest the US is taking a side in the conflict but it could simply be a move designed to coax the warring parties back to the negotiating table in Jeddah.

Regardless of the measures taken so far, Hassan said that “accountability and justice are of the highest importance,” and that thorough investigations by organizations such as the International Criminal Court will ultimately be required to ensure the perpetrators of abuses are held to account.

 


Turkish-Israeli ties to be tested after latest row over Hamas

Turkish-Israeli ties to be tested after latest row over Hamas
Updated 29 min 46 sec ago
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Turkish-Israeli ties to be tested after latest row over Hamas

Turkish-Israeli ties to be tested after latest row over Hamas
  • Ankara’s partnership with Palestinians is ideological rather than practical military cooperation, analyst says
  • Bilateral ties have never been immune from global or regional actors, another analyst tells Arab News

ANKARA: Following Israeli security chief Ronen Bar’s pledge to pursue Hamas leaders overseas, all eyes are now on Turkiye to gauge whether this development will further escalate tension in relations between the two countries.

In a recording released by Israel’s public broadcaster Kan on Sunday, Bar, the head of Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet, stated that Israel intends to wipe out Hamas leaders in Qatar, Lebanon, and Turkiye.

“This is our Munich. It will take a few years, but we will be there to do it,” he remarked, alluding to the 1972 attack where Palestinian Black September gunmen killed 11 Israeli Olympic team members during the Munich games.

Israel subsequently carried out retaliatory operations against Black September operatives in different countries over a number of years.

BACKGROUND

Political analyst Gokhan Cinkara believes that Turkiye’s NATO membership and its significant regional power would discourage Israel from making concrete moves on Turkish soil.

The contents of the recording of Bar garnered disapproval in Ankara, with state-run Anadolu Agency reporting that Israeli authorities have been informed of the serious consequences that “illegal operations on Turkish territory would generate.”

The development comes against the trend of diplomatic reconciliation between Turkiye and Israel, based largely on the close collaboration between the intelligence agencies of both nations.

This cooperation successfully prevented several attacks targeting Israeli citizens in Turkiye.

Additionally, Turkiye disclosed that Israeli spy networks had operated in the country, gathering intelligence on resident Palestinians.

Turkiye reportedly requested that all Hamas political leaders leave the country on Oct. 7, following the attack by the group on Israel, although the Turkish presidency refuted this claim.

The Hamas officials who had been residing in Turkiye allegedly arrived there after the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.

Top Hamas officials, including Ismail Haniyeh, have also openly visited Turkiye and stayed in Istanbul over the years.

On Wednesday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Turkiye would not tolerate Israeli security operations on its soil and cautioned that it could severely impact bilateral relations.

“If Israel dares to take such a step on Turkish soil, it will pay such a great price that it will not be able to recover from it,” he said.

In recent days, Erdogan harshly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and labeled him a “war criminal” and “the butcher of Gaza” — remarks that were quickly countered by Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who directly addressed the English account of the Turkish presidency, and said: “You are welcome to host in your country Hamas terrorists who aren’t eliminated and flee from Gaza.”

Gokhan Cinkara, political analyst and founder of the Ankara Center for Global Politics, believes Turkiye’s ties with the Hamas leadership resulted from a foreign policy trend shaped during the Arab Spring.

“The success of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections pushed many actors, especially the US, to communicate with them. However, subsequent developments, especially after the exclusion of Al-Fatah in Gaza and the loss of influence of the Arab Spring, led to their exclusion by regional actors,” he told Arab News.

Cinkara thinks that Turkiye’s NATO membership and its significant regional power would discourage Israel from making concrete moves on Turkish soil.

According to Betul Dogan-Akkas, assistant professor of international relations at the department of international relations at Ankara University, Turkish-Israeli ties have fluctuated for decades, and have never been immune from global or regional actors.

“Although Qatar and Turkiye are also mentioned in Bet’s statements, I don’t see this scenario as a realistic or preferable act for Israel. The weakest angle here is Lebanon. Neither Qatar nor Turkiye will keep their reaction low once an Israeli operation on their soil threatens their domestic security,” Dogan-Akkas told Arab News.

“Regarding the situation of Qatar, this could even destroy its mediatorship role and will just push it further into the Palestinian resistance,” she added.

“Regarding the case of Turkiye, we don’t have solid and public information about the names of leaders residing in Istanbul, yet it is a de facto situation that there are Hamas members or political elites from Hamas in Turkiye. These names are not from the military sphere as Turkiye’s partnership with Hamas is based on an ideological level rather than a practical military cooperation, as is the case with Iran,” Dogan-Akkas said.

Experts caution about the potential effect of any Israeli attack on the countries where Hamas members reside, which could turn the ongoing war into a regional conflict.

“This does not mean that these countries will quickly declare war on Israel, but this will destroy a rapid ceasefire or attempts to find a solution in Gaza,” Dogan-Akkas said.

However, it is still unclear what was the underlying intention behind Bar’s words and experts remain skeptical about whether Turkiye will change its policy on Hamas.

Cinkara does not expect any change in Turkiye’s relations with Hamas for the time being under current regional circumstances.

But for Dogan-Akkas, Bar’s words were a tactical move to show the world Israel’s intelligence superiority, especially as an answer to ongoing criticisms about failures over the Oct. 7 attack.

“They could take some Hamas hostages abroad, but this won’t be from Istanbul or Doha. In the meantime, I don’t think President Erdogan will completely deport Hamas-affiliated political figures because they are already low profile; they don’t go public except their small communities,” she said.

 


Egypt’s foreign minister looks to build on strategic relationship with US

Rep. Michael McCaul. (REUTERS)
Rep. Michael McCaul. (REUTERS)
Updated 07 December 2023
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Egypt’s foreign minister looks to build on strategic relationship with US

Rep. Michael McCaul. (REUTERS)
  • McCaul praised Egypt’s efforts to boost regional security and stability and expressed his full support for strengthening Egypt-US relations

CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has met Michael McCaul, the US Republican representative who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, during his visit to the US.

Shoukry spoke of Egypt’s desire to increase coordination and consultation between the two countries while building on their strategic relationship and partnership.

He looked at the significant developments that Egypt has witnessed over the years in economic and social policy.

He said that Egypt’s foreign policy was based on the need for regional peace, security, and good relations with neighboring states.

Consultations focused on international and regional issues and crises, including Gaza, Libya, Sudan, and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, with the foreign minister highlighting the key aspects of Egypt’s stance on the matters.

He spoke of Egypt’s opposition to any attempt to forcibly displace Palestinian citizens from inside or outside their lands, and the importance of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to protect civilians.

McCaul praised Egypt’s efforts to boost regional security and stability and expressed his full support for strengthening Egypt-US relations.

Shoukry also met Sen. Ben Cardin, the chair of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The meeting looked at the situation in Gaza and Shoukry emphasized the need for increased international efforts to establish a sustainable ceasefire and protect civilians.

He reaffirmed Egypt’s rejection of forcibly displacing Palestinian citizens, while stressing the need to remove obstacles that prevented humanitarian aid from entering the Gaza Strip.

Cardin praised the Egyptian role in the region, thanking Egypt for providing humanitarian aid and contributing to the previous truce in Gaza.

 


Israeli bombing injures students at educational institute in southern Lebanon

Israeli bombing injures students at educational institute in southern Lebanon
Updated 07 December 2023
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Israeli bombing injures students at educational institute in southern Lebanon

Israeli bombing injures students at educational institute in southern Lebanon
  • Lebanon’s PM slams Israeli attacks as religious leader claims Israel-Hamas war violates all humanitarian laws

BEIRUT: Several students were left injured after Israeli shelling on Thursday struck an educational institution in the southern Lebanese town of Qunin.

The attack came amid ongoing border exchanges between the Israeli army and Hezbollah.

Qunin, in Lebanon’s Bint Jbeil district, is 120 km from Beirut but not directly on the border. It was hit by a series of explosions, and videos posted on social media showed rockets landing in the town and residents running for safety.

Witnesses claimed smoke bombs were followed by artillery shelling.

The Israeli army said that Israeli Air Force fighter jets “hit a series of targets for Hezbollah on Lebanese territory, including terrorist infrastructure, missile launch sites, and Hezbollah’s military outposts.

“A number of shootings were spotted from Lebanese territory toward Israeli territory earlier in the day, prompting the army to attack the sources of the shooting.”

Lebanese Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said: “The Israeli criminality is unlimited, and this is what we are witnessing in the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon.”

Mikati’s statement came as part of his comments on the results of an investigation conducted by global media institutions, which held Israel accountable for targeting a group of journalists in southern Lebanon on Oct. 13, killing Reuters photographer Issam Abdallah, and wounding six others.

On Thursday morning, the outskirts of the towns of Hula, Markaba, Alma Al-Shaab, Tayr Harfa, Al-Dhahira, and Majdel Selm were also the target of Israeli artillery shelling.

And one person was taken to Marjayoun Governmental Hospital for treatment to injuries following Israeli bombing of Hamams Hill in Sarda. Other areas targeted included Wadi Saluki, Wadi Hamul, Ramyah, Bayt Lif, and the outskirts of the predominantly Christian border town of Rmeish.

The Israeli army reportedly fired six phosphorus shells toward Wadi Qatamoun while Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi was touring the south of the country.

During stops at two churches in Tyre, Al-Rahi said: “This solidarity visit, in light of the difficult circumstances, is a humanitarian duty in the face of the horrors of what is happening, and it is for the sake of peace, especially since this region is paying the price of war.

“This war is devastating, not only in Gaza, but it is a war outside all civilization and humanitarian laws.

“We came to declare that without peace, there is no life, and every human has a role, and we refuse to distort humanity’s role.

“We want to stand against hatred, malice, and hostility, as we are brothers. This is the true Lebanese culture and the true ecclesiastical spiritual culture.

“In our spiritual and Lebanese culture, we do not accept that the Palestinian cause be erased in a moment, but we strive for permanent peace.

“The two-state solution is required, and it is what achieves peace, and we will work to be peacemakers.

“In Lebanon, we stand firm in our unity, and we know that our enemy always aspires to annex lands from Lebanon, and this has been its ambition for a long time.

“We are witnessing a war of extermination, with no mercy, and we cannot watch the destruction of a people.

“It is a programmed, destructive war. There are voices worldwide, but they do not result in stances that alleviate people’s suffering. The Palestinian people have the right to decide their fate,” Al-Rahi added.

Officials from the Disaster Risk Management Unit in the Union of Tyre Municipalities said 20,000 newly displaced people from southern villages had been registered as of Wednesday and housed in five shelter centers in Tyre, adding that hundreds of other displaced people had not yet registered with the unit.

Unit managers noted they were being hampered in their work by a lack of available resources, especially as around 40 villages in the border area were unsafe for civilians.

Hezbollah continued to target Israeli military outposts on Thursday.

In a statement, the militant group said: “The vicinity of the Branit outpost was hit by a guided missile and many ambulances for the Israeli enemy were spotted moving in the area.”

Hezbollah added that it also targeted, “the site of Al-Marj, the Ramim forest, and the Mitat barracks with appropriate weapons, achieving direct hits, as well as the site of Ma’ayan Baruch with appropriate weapons, causing direct hits.”

 


Egypt’s foreign minister, UN chief discuss need for permanent Gaza ceasefire

Egypt’s foreign minister, UN chief discuss need for permanent Gaza ceasefire
Updated 07 December 2023
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Egypt’s foreign minister, UN chief discuss need for permanent Gaza ceasefire

Egypt’s foreign minister, UN chief discuss need for permanent Gaza ceasefire
  • Sameh Shoukry lauds key role adopted by Antonio Guterres in dealing with crisis in Palestine
  • Guterres and Shoukry discussed the deteriorating humanitarian and security situations in the Strip and diplomatic moves to restore a truce

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry has praised UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ handling of the crisis in Gaza.

Condemning any attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians, the minister told the UN chief that Cairo was keen to coordinate efforts to bring about a permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

In a phone call from Guterres to Shoukry, the officials discussed the deteriorating humanitarian and security situations in the Strip and diplomatic moves to restore a truce.

Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Ahmed Abu Zaid, said Shoukry highlighted Egypt’s ongoing liaison with international parties and Arab and Muslim groups at the UN to find ways to end the conflict, and he noted the importance of applying Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

Guterres thanked Cairo for its help in dealing with the crisis and its efforts to get vital aid deliveries through to the Palestinian people.


Houthis vow to continue blocking Red Sea for Israeli ships

Houthis vow to continue blocking Red Sea for Israeli ships
Updated 07 December 2023
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Houthis vow to continue blocking Red Sea for Israeli ships

Houthis vow to continue blocking Red Sea for Israeli ships
  • Houthi Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Al-Atefi said that the militia would continue to block the Red Sea to ships owned or operated by Israel
  • US envoy discusses militia threats to international commercial traffic and peace efforts with key Yemen official

AL-MUKALLA: The Houthis have threatened again to launch missile and drone strikes against Israeli ships traversing the Red Sea as well as Israel itself, amid mounting international pressure on the Yemeni militia. 

Houthi Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Al-Atefi said on Wednesday that the militia would continue to block the Red Sea for ships owned or operated by Israel and would fire ballistic missiles and drones at Israel, defying international calls for the militia to stop threatening maritime navigation in the Red Sea.

“In support of our people in Gaza, the navy, missile, and drone forces are ready to conduct the toughest individual and collective attacks on fixed or moving targets in Israel,” Al-Atefi said while addressing a group of military and security officers, as well as media, aboard the seized cargo ship Galaxy Leader.

Al-Atefi’s warnings came as the militia’s military declared the firing of a number of ballistic missiles targeting military sites in Eilat, south of Israel.

Since the beginning of this month, the Houthis have fired drones and ballistic missiles toward Israel and commercial ships in the Red Sea in response to Israel’s assault in Gaza.

Several drones and missiles were intercepted over the Red Sea by US Navy ships. 

The Houthis seized the Israeli-linked cargo ship Galaxy Leader from the Red Sea on Nov. 19 and diverted it to the shore of Yemen’s Hodeidah. 

The militia transformed the seized ship into a tourist attraction, allowing visitors to board for 500 Yemeni riyals (almost a dollar in Houthi cities).

People were seen wandering around the ship, dancing in groups, and chewing the hobby qat leaves, according to social media influencers.

Images on social media showed tiny boats transporting passengers from Hodeidah’s shoreline to the ship.

Others were spotted snapping pictures and waving Palestinian and Yemeni flags.

The slogans of the Houthis were displayed on the ship.

“The ship is available to everybody for 500 riyals. Life is great here since one may chew (qat), alter his mood, smoke shisha, and even earn a livelihood,” Mustafa Al-Maouri, a Yemeni online influencer who was kidnapped by the Houthis and placed on trial earlier this year, said on the ship’s top deck.

Meanwhile, Tim Lenderking, US Yemen envoy, met with Aidarous Al-Zubeidi, deputy president of Yemen’s Presidential Transitional Council, in Dubai on Thursday to discuss Houthi threats to international commercial traffic in the Red Sea and peace efforts to end the conflict in Yemen.

“We discussed the urgent maritime security concerns and challenges in the Red Sea and Bab Al-Mandab considering the recent escalation by the Houthis and reviewed together the latest updates regarding the UN-led political peace process to end the war in #Yemen,” Al-Zubeidi said on the social media platform X.

The US Department of State said that Lenderking traveled to the region on Monday to push for a peaceful resolution to the Yemen crisis and to discuss with US partners measures to maintain the safety of international commerce.