Yemen Houthis launch drone ‘swarm’ against Israel

Yemen Houthis launch drone ‘swarm’ against Israel
The Houthis have fired drones and ballistic missiles at commercial ships in the Red Sea in a bid to stop vessels bound for Israel from passing through the waterway. (Reuters)
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Updated 16 December 2023

Yemen Houthis launch drone ‘swarm’ against Israel

Yemen Houthis launch drone ‘swarm’ against Israel
  • Yemeni minister condemns Iran claim that it has ‘predominance’ in the Red Sea
  • Remarks ‘back up’ accusations of Tehran financing and arming militia, says Muammar Al-Eryani

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s Houthi militia on Saturday claimed to have launched a volley of explosive-rigged drones toward the Israeli Red Sea city of Eilat.

Militia spokesperson Yahiya Sarae said that “sensitive” locations in Eilat had been targeted with a “swarm” of drones.

He vowed that the militia will carry out drone and missile attacks on Israel and Israel-bound ships in the Red Sea until the Israelis end their assault on Gaza.

“Yemeni Armed Forces affirm that their military operations against the Zionist entity will continue until its aggression against our steadfast brothers in the Gaza Strip ceases,” Sarae said in a televised statement.

The latest Houthi claim came only hours after Egyptian media reported that Egypt’s air defense shot down a drone off the coast of Dahab on the southeast Sinai Peninsula, but did not say where the device was launched.

On Saturday, UK Secretary of State for Defense Grant Shapps said that a British warship, HMS Diamond, shot down a suspected drone targeting commercial ships in the Red Sea.

He said that the destroyer had arrived in the area to boost international maritime security amid Houthi attacks on shipping.

“The recent spate of illegal attacks represents a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security in the Red Sea. The UK remains committed to repelling these attacks to protect the free flow of global trade,” Shapps said on social media X.

The Houthis have fired drones and ballistic missiles at commercial ships in the Red Sea in a bid to stop vessels bound for Israel from passing through the waterway.

In its almost daily alerts on Houthi attacks, the US Central Command said on Saturday that the militia launched two ballistic missiles against commercial ships on Friday and also warned a commercial ship to change course.

One of the missiles hit the Liberian-flagged MV Palatium 3, causing a fire but no deaths.

The Houthis also told the northbound Liberian-flagged MSC Alanya to turn south or risk being attacked.

Responding to reports that the US is forming a multinational naval group to secure the Red Sea against militia attacks, Houthi commanders vowed to attack those forces and step up attacks on shipping if Israel refuses to withdraw from Gaza. 

Mohammed Al-Qadri, commander of the Houthi Coastal Defense Brigade, told Houthi-affiliated Al-Maserah TV on Friday that the militia is not “frightened” of US threats to strike its areas of Yemen and is preparing to launch the “third phase” of its attacks on Israel. 

During the initial phase, the Houthis launched missiles and drones against Israel, while also attempting to block Israeli-operated or owned ships. The second phase included strikes on all ships heading toward Israel, regardless of nationality.

The Houthis provided no details on the third phase.

Meanwhile, Yemeni Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani slammed Iran’s Defense Minister Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani for claiming that Iran has “predominance” in the Red Sea.

“These statements confirm the validity of what we have repeatedly mentioned about the Iranian regime’s directing, planning, financing, and arming the terrorist Houthi militia’s coup against the Yemeni state,” the Yemeni minister said on X.  

Last week, Iran’s defense minister threatened to take action against a planned US-led naval coalition to safeguard the Red Sea from Houthi assaults, claiming that Iran had the upper hand in the area.

Yemen’s Hodeidah battles port blaze after deadly Israel strike

Yemen’s Hodeidah battles port blaze after deadly Israel strike
Updated 21 July 2024

Yemen’s Hodeidah battles port blaze after deadly Israel strike

Yemen’s Hodeidah battles port blaze after deadly Israel strike
  • Saturday’s strike on the vital port, the first claimed by Israel, killed six people and wounded 80, many of them with severe burns
  • Houthi military spokesman says the militia’s 'response to Israeli aggression against our country is inevitably coming and will be huge'

HODEIDAH: Firefighting teams on Sunday were still battling a blaze at the Houthi-run port in Yemen’s Hodeidah, hours after an Israeli strike on the harbor triggered a massive fire and killed six people, according to the militia.
Saturday’s strike on the vital port, a key entry point for fuel and humanitarian aid, is the first claimed by Israel in the Arabian peninsula’s poorest country, about 2,000 kilometers (1,300 miles) away.
It killed six people and wounded 80, many of them with severe burns, the rebel-run health ministry said in a statement carried by Houthi media.

On Sunday, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said the militia’s “response to the Israeli aggression against our country is inevitably coming and will be huge.” 

Israel said it carried out the strike in response to a drone attack by the Houthis on Tel Aviv which killed one person on Friday.
More operations against the Houthis would follow “if they dare to attack us,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.
Following the strike, the Israeli military said Sunday it intercepted a missile fired from Yemen toward the Red Sea resort town of Eilat, noting that “the projectile did not cross into Israeli territory.”
Saree, the Houthi spokesman, said the militia had fired ballistic missiles toward Eilat, the latest in a string of Houthi attempts to hit the port city.
The militia announcement came as firefighters struggled to contain the blaze at the Hodeidah port, with thick plumes of black smoke shrouding the sky above the city, said an AFP correspondent in the area.
Fuel storage tanks and a power plant at the port where still ablaze amid “slow” firefighting efforts, said a Hodeidah port employee.
The port employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for security concerns, said it could take days to contain the fire, a view echoed by Yemen experts.
“There is concern that the poorly equipped firefighters may not be able to contain the spreading fire, which could continue for days,” said Mohammed Albasha, senior Middle East analyst for the US-based Navanti Group, warning that it could reach food storage facilities at the harbor.
Hodeidah port, a vital entry point for fuel imports and international aid for militia-held areas of Yemen, had remained largely untouched through the decade-long war between the Houthis and the internationally recognized government propped up by neighboring Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis control swathes of Yemen, including much of its Red Sea coast, and the war has left millions of Yemenis dependent on aid supplied through the port.
Despite Houthi assurances of sufficient fuel stocks, Saturday’s strike triggered fears of worsening shortages, which war-weary Yemenis are ill-equiped to handle.
The attack is “going to have dire humanitarian effects on the millions of ordinary Yemenis living in Houthi-held Yemen,” Nicholas Brumfield, a Yemen expert, said on social media platform X.
It will drive up prices of fuel but also any goods carried by truck, the analyst said.
Yemen’s internationally-recognized government, which has been battling the Houthis for nearly a decade, condemned the strike, and held Israel responsible for a worsening humanitarian crisis.
A statement carried by the official Saba news agency said the Yemeni government holds “the Zionist entity fully responsible for any repercussions resulting from its air strikes, including the deepening of a humanitarian crises.”
It also warned the huthi militia against dragging the country into “senseless battles that serve the interests of the Iranian regime and its expansionist project in the region.”

Iraq agrees to renew agreement to supply oil to Jordan

Iraq agrees to renew agreement to supply oil to Jordan
Updated 21 July 2024

Iraq agrees to renew agreement to supply oil to Jordan

Iraq agrees to renew agreement to supply oil to Jordan
  • Quantity constitutes approximately 10 percent of Jordan’s crude oil needs

AMMAN: Jordanian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Saleh Kharabsheh announced on Sunday that Jordan had received approval from the Iraqi government to renew the memorandum of understanding for crude oil supply, Jordan News Agency reported.
The agreement, originally signed in May 2023 by the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, the Ministry of Electricity and the Jordanian Ministry of Mineral Resources, has now been extended until June 2025 under the same terms.
Under the extended MoU, Jordan will receive up to 15,000 barrels of oil per day at a price based on the monthly Brent crude rate, minus $16 per barrel to account for quality differences and transportation fees.
This quantity constitutes approximately 10 percent of Jordan’s crude oil needs.
Kharabsheh highlighted the significance of the MoU in strengthening economic cooperation between Jordan and Iraq and boosting land-based imports.
He noted that this would also aid in rehabilitating the highway linking the two countries used by their tanker fleets.
The minister added that this development underscores the economic interests of both nations, fosters joint energy cooperation, will generate additional employment opportunities, and revitalize the critical economic corridor between Jordan and Iraq.

Draft Israeli law to curb academic speech described as ‘McCarthyite’ 

Draft Israeli law to curb academic speech described as ‘McCarthyite’ 
Updated 21 July 2024

Draft Israeli law to curb academic speech described as ‘McCarthyite’ 

Draft Israeli law to curb academic speech described as ‘McCarthyite’ 
  • Two-thirds of the student union’s university chapters supported the campaign

LONDON: Israel’s education minister and national student union have endorsed a law to curb academic speech in the country, The Guardian reported on Sunday.

Leading universities have attacked the bill as “McCarthyite” and fundamentally undemocratic.

The legislation, currently being debated in the Knesset, would give a government-appointed committee the power to order the firing of academic staff that it decides have expressed “support for terror.” If the universities refused, their funding would be cut.

Critics argue that the legislation undermines Israeli academia by restricting free speech and allowing politicians to weaponize accusations that should be handled by the legal system.

Uri Sivan, president of the esteemed Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, condemned the law as “a very violent form of McCarthyism,” intended to stifle free expression. Despite these concerns, two-thirds of the student union’s university chapters supported the campaign.

The student union invested over $136,000 in a nationwide billboard campaign promoting the law. This prompted Haaretz newspaper to warn in an editorial that the country’s “illiberal students need a lesson in democracy.”

In Israel, criticism of the Gaza war is already heavily restricted, even for Jewish citizens.

A teacher charged with treason and held in solitary confinement for four days after voicing concerns about civilian deaths in Gaza described the current atmosphere as “a time of witch-hunts.”

Israel’s Education Minister Yoav Kisch said he backed the law, although it is not a government initiative.

“It is important that academic institutions have great independence, but there are places that cross a line that must not be crossed,” his office said in a statement.

Ofir Katz, a member of the governing Likud party and chair of the ruling coalition, presented the draft as a private bill, with other backers including a legislator from the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rival, Benny Gantz. It has now passed the first of four Knesset votes.

Sivan expressed concerns about the law’s broad restrictions, noting that existing laws against incitement to terror already apply to all residents. “Why is academia singled out (with this law)?” he asked, suggesting the move aims to intimidate independent thinkers. He warned of a severe violation of democratic principles, asserting, “In a democratic country, everyone is equal before the law.”

The Association of University Heads, Israel, known as Vera, in a public letter criticized the student union billboards as a divisive “campaign of persecution and incitement” that could lead to violence. Vera cautioned that the draft law could provoke international sanctions against Israeli universities by undermining their academic independence.

There has already been outrage following the use of anti-terrorism laws to detain Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, a prominent legal scholar, over her criticism of the Gaza war.

Anat Matar from Tel Aviv University’s philosophy department expressed alarm over student involvement in promoting the law, describing it as particularly disturbing.

“Whether or not it passes, significant damage has already been done,” she told The Guardian. “The mere fact that it is supported by the national student union and by many local student unions, and that there is hardly any protest among students against, it manifests another step down the ladder towards full-blown fascism.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid warned that the law would erode democracy, arguing that it allows politicians, rather than legal authorities, to determine what constitutes speaking against the state of Israel.

“You’re allowing governing politicians to decide what is in favor of Israel and what is against it, what is permissible to say and what is forbidden,” Lapid told the Knesset.

Jordanian trade delegation visits Tunisia to enhance economic ties

Jordanian trade delegation visits Tunisia to enhance economic ties
Updated 21 July 2024

Jordanian trade delegation visits Tunisia to enhance economic ties

Jordanian trade delegation visits Tunisia to enhance economic ties
  • Key discussions highlighted the potential to enhance tourism cooperation

AMMAN: A Jordanian trade delegation on Sunday concluded a trip to Tunisia aimed at strengthening economic relations, Jordan News Agency reported.

The visit was organized by the Amman Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Tunisian Embassy in Amman. It included a series of meetings with companies, visits to several factories, and discussions with various professional unions, associations and commercial and industrial sectors in Tunis, Sousse and Sfax.

During the multiday visit, the delegation identified promising investment opportunities across diverse sectors, including textiles, automotive parts manufacturing, food industries, tourism, logistics, and medical supplies.

Key discussions highlighted the potential to enhance tourism cooperation, promoting each country as a destination through reciprocal initiatives.

The delegation emphasized the importance of regular exchanges and exhibitions to deepen business ties between Jordan and Tunisia, supported by an updated joint database on economic and investment opportunities.

Talks resulted in a series of understandings and the renewal of agreements, paving the way for broader economic engagement aligned with the mutual interests of both countries.

Immediate plans include organizing sector-specific visits for business owners from both countries, with the first delegation focused on the clothing and footwear sector scheduled to visit Tunisia within the next two months, Petra reported.

The ACC highlighted the economic agreements linking Jordan and Tunisia with various global economic blocs, facilitating their presence in regional markets such as Europe and Africa.

In 2023, bilateral trade between Jordan and Tunisia reached $35 million. Jordan’s exports were primarily in chemicals, plastics, textiles, metals, food products and agricultural goods.

In meetings with Tunisian Minister of Trade and Export Development Kalthoum Ben Rejeb, ACC Chairman Khalil Haj Tawfiq called for strengthened cooperation between businesses in the two countries.

He proposed addressing impediments to trade flow in the legislative, logistical and administrative domains, while suggesting the establishment of a joint higher committee to facilitate joint exhibitions and networking events.

Ben Rejeb emphasised the importance of such meetings in enhancing economic ties and identifying new avenues for trade, particularly in strategic sectors such as pharmaceuticals, automotive components, electrical goods and food industries.

She underscored Tunisia’s role as a gateway to Africa and Jordan’s strategic positioning for Gulf markets, highlighting the potential for enhanced economic integration.


Israel shoots down missile fired from Yemen after striking Houthis

Israel shoots down missile fired from Yemen after striking Houthis
Updated 21 July 2024

Israel shoots down missile fired from Yemen after striking Houthis

Israel shoots down missile fired from Yemen after striking Houthis
  • Israeli forces launched first strikes on Yemen on Saturday, Iran-backed Houthis vow to continue attacking Israel
  • Houthi drone killed man in Tel Aviv on Friday

JERUSALEM/CAIRO: Israel said it shot down a missile launched from Yemen on Sunday and the Yemeni Houthi movement said it had fired several missiles at the Israeli city of Eilat after Israel’s first public strike against the Iran-aligned group a day earlier.
The Houthis have launched missiles and drones at Israel and disrupted global trade through the Red Sea in response to Israel’s assault on Gaza, further destabilising the Middle East as war in the Palestinian enclave rages on after nine months.
Israel says the Houthis have launched 200 attacks against it since the Gaza war began, many of them intercepted and most of them not deadly.
But a rare Houthi drone strike on Friday hit Tel Aviv and killed one person, prompting Israel to announce its first strikes against the group on Saturday. The strikes by warplanes hit near the Yemeni port of Hodeidah and killed six people, local medics said.
The Houthi movement, known formally as Ansar Allah, said on Sunday it would continue to attack Israel in response.
Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdulsalam told Qatar’s Al Jazeera TV there would be “no red lines ... all sensitive institutions ... will be a target for us.”
The Israeli military said its Arrow 3 missile defense system had shot down a surface-to-surface missile projectile launched from Yemen on Sunday before it crossed into Israeli territory.
Before the interception, air raid sirens sounded in the Red Sea port city of Eilat, sending residents running for shelter.
Sunday’s attack prolonged an escalation of violence between Israel and the Houthis that began with the Houthi drone strike that hit the center of Tel Aviv on Friday. One man was killed and four other people were wounded, officials said.
The Israeli warplanes’ air raid on Hodeidah on Saturday killed six people and wounded more than 80, medical sources in Yemen told Reuters, describing all as civilians.
Images from the scene showed a fiery blaze and dense smoke rising from the site of the strike. A Houthi-run TV channel said the strikes had hit an oil facility and power station.
Israeli officials say Hodeidah port has been used by the Houthis to receive weapons shipments from Iran.

The exchanges are part of a spillover from the Gaza war that has drawn in regional and world powers.
Iran-aligned groups including the Houthis have fired rockets and missiles at Israel saying they are doing so in support of Palestinians and the Islamist militant group Hamas that governs Gaza. The United States and its allies back Israel and provide weapons to it.
The war began on Oct. 7 after a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel in which about 1,200 people were killed and over 250 taken hostage back to Gaza, according to Israeli authorities.
Israel has since bombed and invaded Gaza as part of what it says is a campaign to eliminate Hamas, killing nearly 39,000 people, according to health officials in the enclave.
The Houthis, who control much of the north of Yemen and other large population centers, have previously claimed targeting Eilat and other attacks directed at Israel, saying they are acting in retaliation for Israel’s war on Gaza.
The group has also attacked Red Sea shipping routes for months.
Hamas’ allies include Iran-backed groups such as the Houthis, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iraqi paramilitaries.
The Houthi movement consists primarily of members a minority Shiite Muslim group in Yemen and has controlled the country’s capital, Sanaa, for years.