US, UK carry out fresh strikes on Houthi-controlled Hodeidah province in Yemen

Special US, UK carry out fresh strikes on Houthi-controlled Hodeidah province in Yemen
U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Marc Miguez, Commander of Carrier Strike Group Two, speaks to the media on the bridge of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier, Red Sea, Feb. 12, 2024. (Reuters)
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Updated 13 February 2024
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US, UK carry out fresh strikes on Houthi-controlled Hodeidah province in Yemen

US, UK carry out fresh strikes on Houthi-controlled Hodeidah province in Yemen
  • Attacks target military installations, missile launchers, ammo stores, militia says
  • Rights groups accuse Houthis of using war in Gaza to recruit children

AL-MUKALLA: The US and UK launched strikes on Houthi-controlled Hodeidah province in Yemen on Tuesday, as rights organizations and government officials accused the militia group of exploiting the Gaza conflict to recruit minors to their own cause.

The Houthis’ official news agency, Saba, said the attacks targeted military installations, missile and drone launchers, and ammo stores in At Tuhayta District in the west of the province.

The strikes came as US Central Command said on Tuesday that the Houthis launched two missiles at Bab Al-Mandab from areas under their control on Monday morning. The attacks hit the Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship and the Greek-owned MV Star Iris.

The Houthis said on Monday that the Star Iris, which was transporting corn from Brazil to Iran, was an American vessel and was targeted in revenge for the bombardment of Yemeni land by the US and UK.

Since November, the Houthis have seized a commercial ship and launched dozens of missiles and drones at vessels traveling through the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab and the Gulf of Aden, preventing Israel-linked ships from passing through commerce lanes off Yemen.

The group claims the strikes are intended to push Israel to break its siege of Gaza. This is the first time the Houthis have attacked a ship destined for Iran, the group’s primary patron.

According to a regional security source cited by Reuters, the Houthis told Iran before targeting the ship and said the attack was intended to convey a message that Iran has no control over the Houthis and that they are acting independently.

Meanwhile, international rights organizations and the government have accused the Houthis of using the war in Gaza and global outcry at the mass killing of Palestinians to recruit minors and send them to the battlefields of Yemen.

Niku Jafarnia, a Yemen and Bahrain researcher at Human Rights Watch said: “The Houthis are exploiting the Palestinian cause to recruit more children for their domestic fight in Yemen.

“The Houthis should be investing resources in providing the basic needs of children in their territories, like good education, food and water, rather than replacing their childhood with conflict.”

Yemeni activists told Human Rights Watch that hundreds, possibly thousands, of children had joined the Houthis since Oct. 7 after being convinced to fight Israelis in Palestine. But instead of sending them to Gaza, the Houthis sent them to fight Yemeni government troops.

“The Houthis make children believe that they will fight to liberate Palestine, but they end up sending them to (the front lines in) Marib and Taiz. Indeed, the Houthis’ Gaza is Marib,” an activist who manages a rights group said.

Yemen’s Minister of Information Moammar Al-Eryani has called for a list of Houthi leaders involved in the recruitment of children so they can be sanctioned.

The militia group had “mercilessly” dragged tens of thousands of children into the battlefields and used them as fuel for their war, he said.

“The Houthi militia has transformed schools under its control into war camps, and classrooms into halls to teach youngsters to disassemble and use light and medium weaponry, as well as indoctrinate them with hard-line sectarian ideologies and hostile slogans acquired from Iran,” Al-Eryani said on X.


Hamas says submitted response to Gaza truce mediators

Hamas says submitted response to Gaza truce mediators
Updated 3 sec ago
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Hamas says submitted response to Gaza truce mediators

Hamas says submitted response to Gaza truce mediators
Truce talks started on April 7 in Cairo but have so far brought no breakthrough on a plan presented by US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators
Hamas said it was also ready “to conclude a serious and real prisoner exchange deal between the two parties“

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories: Hamas said Saturday it had submitted its response to Egyptian and Qatari mediators on a proposed truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip, insisting on a “permanent ceasefire.”
Truce talks started on April 7 in Cairo but have so far brought no breakthrough on a plan presented by US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators.
In a statement, the Palestinian militant group said it “reaffirms adherence to its demands” including “a permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of the occupation army from the entire Gaza Strip, the return of the displaced to their areas and places of residence, intensification of the entry of relief and aid, and the start of reconstruction.”
Hamas said it was also ready “to conclude a serious and real prisoner exchange deal between the two parties.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has opposed a permanent ceasefire and vowed to send ground troops into Rafah, ignoring an international outcry against it, including from the United States.
Netanyahu’s office said Saturday “the only obstacle to obtaining the release of the abductees is Hamas and not any factor on the Israeli side.”
“Among other things, Hamas demands an end to the war and a complete withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip.
“The cabinet and the security forces are united in their opposition to these unfounded demands.”
“Hamas to this day has refused any deal and any compromise proposal,” it said.

Israelis rally against government amid deadlock on Gaza hostages

Israelis rally against government amid deadlock on Gaza hostages
Updated 17 min 32 sec ago
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Israelis rally against government amid deadlock on Gaza hostages

Israelis rally against government amid deadlock on Gaza hostages
  • As concern mounts in Israel for the wellbeing of the 129 remaining hostages their families and friends have organized increasingly vocal demonstrations
  • They have dovetailed with activists who have long called for Netanyahu’s ouster given his trial on graft charges

TEL AVIV: Thousands of Israelis rallied against their government on Saturday, with some demanding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu call off the half-year-old war in Gaza amid a deadlock in diplomatic efforts to retrieve hostages held there by Hamas.
Hamas-led gunmen seized 253 people during an Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 others, according to officials. Some hostages were freed in a November truce but Egyptian- and Qatari-mediated efforts to secure another deal appear to have stalled.
As concern mounts in Israel for the wellbeing of the 129 remaining hostages, who cannot be contacted, their families and friends have organized increasingly vocal demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightist government.
They have dovetailed with activists who have long called for Netanyahu’s ouster given his trial on graft charges — which he denies — and his attempts to overhaul the judiciary last year.
“Our country’s near the abyss. We’ve already started to drive down and we must stop it. I’m here to gather the force to tell the people that they need to come out and they need to tell our government that it’s time to stop,” said Marva Erez, 45, who was among demonstrators in Tel Aviv.
Netanyahu said he will continue with the war to dismantle Hamas, despite alarm in Washington and other Western capitals at the civilian toll in Gaza, where medical officials say more than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed.
Hamas has said any new hostage deal must bring about an end to the Gaza war and withdrawal of all Israeli forces.
“There will be a (hostage) deal,” Culture Minister Miki Zohar, a senior member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, told Channel 12 TV. “But not at any price.”
The anti-government protest in Tel Aviv was held separately to a smaller vigil for the hostages. Many of those taking part in the latter event soon merged with the bigger demonstration.
Michael Levy, whose brother Or is among the hostages, said he was protesting because “we have no time for the talks.”
“We need actions. We need to get them home,” he said.


Iraqi prime minister heads to Washington as regional tensions flare

Iraqi prime minister heads to Washington as regional tensions flare
Updated 42 min 23 sec ago
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Iraqi prime minister heads to Washington as regional tensions flare

Iraqi prime minister heads to Washington as regional tensions flare
  • “This official visit occurs at a delicate and sensitive time in the relations with the US, as well as in the context of regional conditions and the ongoing crimes against innocents in the Palestinian territories,” a statement from Al-Sudani’s office said

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani left Baghdad on Saturday for the US, his office said, where he will meet with the US president as regional tensions flare.
US President Joe Biden is due to receive the Iraqi leader on Monday to “coordinate on common priorities” and discuss the “evolution of the military mission” of the US-led anti-terror coalition in Iraq and Syria, according to the White House.
The trip comes after Iran threatened to retaliate for deadly strikes, blamed on Israel, on its consulate in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Biden has said he expects Tehran to take action “sooner rather than later.”

BACKGROUND

President Joe Biden is due to receive the Iraqi leader on Monday to ‘coordinate on common priorities’ and discuss the ‘evolution of the military mission’ of the US-led anti-terror coalition in Iraq and Syria, according to the White House.

“This official visit occurs at a delicate and sensitive time in the relations with the United States, as well as in the context of regional conditions and the ongoing crimes against innocents in the Palestinian territories,” a statement from Al-Sudani’s office said.
The surging tensions come against the backdrop of the six-month war waged by Israel against Iran-backed Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza.
The conflict has since drawn in regional actors, including Iran-backed groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.
Al-Sudani’s office added that the “meeting with President Biden will discuss the regional issues and the current escalations, focusing on the joint efforts to promote calm and prevent the conflict from widening, which could impact global stability.”
After the war in Gaza erupted, armed groups linked to Iran carried out a slew of attacks across the region on US soldiers deployed to the Middle East with the anti-Daesh coalition in support of Palestinians.
Washington has responded by striking several factions.
But calm has largely returned, and tensions have subsided between the US and Iraq, which have resumed talks on the future of the anti-Daesh coalition.
Iraqi authorities have voiced hope for drawing up a timeline to reduce the presence of US forces.
The talks aim to establish “a timeline to end the coalition’s mission and transition to bilateral relations with the coalition member states,” Al-Sudani’s office added on Saturday.
A State Department official, quoted on their website, said the US hopes the talks will also “focus on energy, water, business investment — US businesses investing in Iraq — and we want to talk about the private sector and the banking reforms that we have been working on.”

 


Israel closes schools over security concerns: army

Israel closes schools over security concerns: army
Updated 49 min 43 sec ago
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Israel closes schools over security concerns: army

Israel closes schools over security concerns: army
  • There will be “no educational activities” when the school week begins on Sunday
  • The measure is set to last two days, according to online army guidelines

JERUSALEM: Israel is closing schools nationwide over security concerns, military spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Saturday, after Iran threated to retaliate for a deadly air strike on its Damascus consulate.
There will be “no educational activities” when the school week begins on Sunday “in light of the security situation,” he said in a televised statement.
The measure is set to last two days, according to online army guidelines.
Iran has vowed retaliation after the presumed Israeli strike on April 1 which levelled its consulate in Damascus, killing seven members of the Revolutionary Guards including two generals.
US President Joe Biden said on Friday that he expected Iran to retaliate “sooner (rather) than later.”
Earlier on Saturday Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a container ship “related to the Zionist regime (Israel)” near the Strait of Hormuz, state media reported.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz postponed a planned visit to Hungary and Austria which had been scheduled to begin on Sunday “due to the security situation,” his spokesman said.


Palestinian PM condemns settler attacks in West Bank

Palestinian PM condemns settler attacks in West Bank
Updated 52 min 40 sec ago
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Palestinian PM condemns settler attacks in West Bank

Palestinian PM condemns settler attacks in West Bank
  • Mohammed Mustafa says the assaults ‘will not discourage our people from standing on their land’

RAMALLAH: Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa has condemned attacks by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

“The attacks of the settlers will not discourage our people from standing on their land,” he said, as attacks on Palestinian villages intensified following the death of an Israeli teenager near Ramallah.
The disappearance of 14-year-old Binyamin Achimair sparked attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian villages on Friday and Saturday.
Israel’s army said the boy’s body was found in the West Bank as violence escalated across the Israeli-occupied territory where tensions have simmered for months.

FASTFACT

The international community considers all West Bank settlements illegal and obstacles to peace.

On Friday, one Palestinian was killed, and 25 others were wounded in the attack on Al-Mughayyir village, Palestinian health officials said.
On Saturday, Israeli troops delayed for several hours the ambulance carrying the 26-year-old man’s body for burial, witnesses said.
Dozens of Israeli settlers returned to the village’s outskirts on Saturday, burning 12 homes and several cars.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said three people from the village were injured, one critically.
Border police fired tear gas toward villagers who gathered, trying to disperse them.
In the nearby village of Douma, Israeli settlers set fire to several homes, according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said six people were injured by gunfire but did not say who fired.
Tensions in the West Bank have been especially high since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in nearby Gaza on Oct. 7. More than 33,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in Israel’s offensive, according to Gaza health officials.
Hamas, since then, has been trying to ignite other fronts, including in the West Bank, in hopes of exerting more pressure on Israel.
Such efforts have largely failed, though more than 460 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank since Oct. 7, most in clashes sparked by army raids but some by vigilante settlers.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing of the Israeli teen.
According to Israeli media, the teen was last seen leaving the settler outpost of Malachei Shalom early on Friday to tend to livestock nearby. The sheep returned to the outpost hours later without him, reports said.
Israel’s Channel 13 TV reported that a drone discovered Achimair’s body.
The broadcaster said he was not shot but did not elaborate.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the killing “We will get to the murderers and their helpers as we do to anyone who harms the citizens of the state of Israel,” he said in a statement issued by his office.
In 2014, the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank escalated tensions.
Eventually, they ignited a 50-day Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, at the time the deadliest round of fighting between the two sides.
Consecutive Israeli governments have expanded Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, territories the Palestinians seek for a future state, along with Gaza.
Some are highly developed and resemble suburbs of Israeli cities, while smaller outposts often have only a few caravans.
While Israel has established scores of settlements across the occupied West Bank, the outposts are not authorized, though the government gives them tacit support.
The international community considers all West Bank settlements illegal and obstacles to peace.
Over 700,000 Israelis now live in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem — territories captured by Israel in 1967.